Skip to content

Posts from the "Department of Parks & Recreation" Category

20 Comments

Ten Months Later, Parks Department Fills in Hudson River Greenway Hole

Greenway users need this like a hole in the head. Will the Parks Department fix it? Photo: BornAgainBikist/Twitter

Greenway users need this like a hole in the head. The Parks Department says it filled the cave-in today. Photo: BornAgainBikist/Twitter

Last June, we reported on a sinkhole in the Hudson River Greenway just north of 181st Street in Washington Heights. The Parks Department, which manages the path, said it had cordoned off the hole and was assessing the situation. As of yesterday, nothing much had changed in ten months — except the hole has filled with leaves and grown slightly larger, swallowing more of the greenway path along with it. Now, the Parks Department says it has filled in the hole as a temporary measure.

With the weather warming up, more and more people are using the greenway, which is a vital connection for bike commuters in Upper Manhattan. Streetsblog readers have contacted us to express their concern and frustration. “It’s so large at this point that you have to either dismount and walk through or ride through very carefully to avoid falling in,” wrote reader James Rather. “It’s a huge hazard.”

Streetsblog asked the Parks Department today if it has done anything to fix the hole since it first surfaced, or if it has plans for repair. This afternoon the agency said the hole is being filled in as a temporary fix:

While a long-term solution for this situation is being determined, on Monday we filled in the holes with gravel and dirt to allow users of the greenway to pass safely. Cyclists will have to dismount for a few yards. This work should be complete by Monday evening.

We’ve asked the Parks Department whether the dismount zone is just for today or will be in place indefinitely until a permanent fix is installed. Update: Parks says cyclists will “likely” have to continue to dismount after the hole is filled in.

5 Comments

Parks Department: City Hopes to Complete High Bridge Rehab This Year

Last year Mayor Bloomberg announced that the long-awaited restoration of the car-free High Bridge would be completed “by 2014.” Work began soon after, and the Parks Department tells Streetsblog the rehab is slated to wrap before the year is over.

“While we estimate that the construction will be completed in December of this year, we are exploring every opportunity to expedite the project,” Parks spokesperson Phil Abramson said via email. “DDC and Parks are working closely with the contractor to finish the project as quickly as possible and we look forward to the day that New Yorkers will once again walk and bicycle over our City’s oldest bridge.”

The High Bridge connects the Highbridge neighborhood in the Bronx with Washington Heights. Built as part of the Croton Aqueduct in 1848, it stopped carrying water in 1958, and was closed to the public in 1970. The city secured funding for its restoration seven years ago, and in 2010 awarded a design contract. Bloomberg joined Upper Manhattan electeds for a groundbreaking ceremony in January 2013.

The restored bridge will have new ADA-compliant access ramps. While bike riding will be permitted on the bridge itself, the ramps are considered too narrow for shared use, and cyclists will be directed to take stairs at each end. An eight-foot safety fence will be installed atop the bridge, which Parks says will be designed to minimize disruption of views.

Still at issue is how many hours per week the bridge will be open to commuters and other users. As of 2013, Parks said it will likely be closed at night, when the parks at each end are closed. Highbridge Park in the Bronx is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and park hours on the Manhattan side are a bit longer.

Project coordinator Ellen Macnow told Streetsblog last year that use of the bridge “will be closely monitored and hours will be adjusted if needed.” Other bikeways run by the Parks Department have had problems with limited or inconvenient access.

Operating hours for the High Bridge “have not yet been determined,” said Abramson.

9 Comments

Hudson River Greenway Detour, Set to End This Week, Extended Until March

Before and after. Photo: BornAgainBicyclist/Twitter

Before and after. Photo: BornAgainBicyclist/Twitter

Since May, Hudson River Greenway users have been detoured from the waterside route between 133rd and 135th Streets to 12th Avenue, which is often full of trucks unloading at the Fairway supermarket. The closure, which signs on the greenway said would end at the end of last month, has been extended through the end of February without explanation.

The detour was put in place to accommodate a project to rebuild and increase the capacity of a natural gas regulator station on the river at 134th Street. The project, which connects to the 10,200-mile Transco gas pipeline network from southern Texas, operated by Williams Energy, raised some concerns among elected officials and members of Community Board 9 early this year, but work began in May.

Earlier this week, the revised date was written on permanent marker duct-taped to the old signs. The signs have since been upgraded with new, more legible dates.

The Parks Department says it was notified by Williams Energy last week of the delay, which adds three months to what was supposed to be a seven-month detour. Williams Energy has not responded to Streetsblog’s inquiries about the cause of the delay in reopening the greenway and the late notification to greenway users.

6 Comments

Feds Reject All Three NYC Applications for Latest Round of TIGER Grants

Without a TIGER grant, New Yorkers will have to wait a little longer for the next phase of the Bronx River Greenway (in red). Map: Bronx River Alliance

This morning, U.S. DOT announced the winners in the latest round of its highly-competitive TIGER grant program. While upstate New York won grants for two projects — a highway teardown in Rochester and a complete streets project in Olean — New York City missed out, with applications for ferry improvements, a greenway connection in the Bronx, and the redesign of a busy intersection in Downtown Brooklyn failing to make the cut.

DOT had applied for funding to implement the Brooklyn Bridge Gateway project, a long-anticipated reconstruction of the intersection of Tillary Street and Adams Street that would dramatically improve cyclist and pedestrian access to the Brooklyn Bridge. DOT, which had unsuccessfully submitted the partially-funded project for earlier rounds of TIGER funding before trying again this year, told Streetsblog it was looking at other federal funding sources to fill the gap.

The Parks Department applied for $27.5 million from TIGER to match $10 million in city funds for the completion a section of the Bronx River Greenway between Starlight Park and Concrete Plant Park. The Bronx project includes three bridges — two over the Bronx River and one over the adjacent Amtrak corridor. The project, delayed by negotiations over the Amtrak bridge, saw state funds dedicated to its construction expire in 2009.

A third application, from EDC, would have been dedicated to ferry infrastructure. Streetsblog has inquired with Parks and EDC to see how they plan to fund their projects without TIGER; we’ll let you know if we hear anything back.

New York City has previously won TIGER grants for Hunts Point freight rail infrastructure, Moynihan Station, the city’s Sheridan Expressway study, and the redesign of Fordham Plaza.

2 Comments

City Lays an Old Board Over Upper Manhattan Greenway Pit

The Parks Department doesn’t know when a hole that opened up two months ago on the Hudson River Greenway will be repaired.

A tipster sent us photos of the pit, located just north of 181st Street in Washington Heights, in June. These pictures were taken by the same reader about a week and a half ago, on July 26. Compared to the June pics, it looks like part of the hole has been filled with dirt, and some of it covered with a wooden board. The metal barriers have been shifted, so there’s more room for people to pass. Other than some yellow tape, there is no warning signage. You can also see a crack forming around the existing hole, stretching almost the width of the greenway.

In June, a Parks spokesperson said the department was “assessing the damage.” Parks told us Tuesday that the Department of Environmental Protection inspected the hole, and “found a broken pipe in the roadway drainage system.”

“State DOT is reviewing the findings to determine the next steps,” a Parks spokesperson said, in an email. We’ve asked New York State DOT when the hole will be repaired, and whether the work might entail a detour for greenway users. We’ll update here.

In the meantime, one of the most heavily trafficked bike and pedestrian paths in New York City is patched with an old board.

Read more…

25 Comments

Eyes on the Street: Hole in the Hudson River Greenway in Washington Heights

A tipster sent us photos of what looks like a sinkhole in the Hudson River Greenway just north of 181st Street, in Washington Heights. These shots were taken Sunday morning.

We asked the Parks Department when the hole might be repaired, and whether repair work would necessitate a detour. “We are aware of the situation and we have the area cordoned off for public safety while we assess the damage,” said a spokesperson, via email.

Greenway users, let us know what you’re seeing in the area of 181st Street.

Though it’s prime cycling weather, Parks has closed another uptown stretch of the greenway — from 133rd Street to 135th Street — until December, directing users to detour onto 12th Avenue. Parks told Streetsblog in May that the Harlem greenway segment was blocked so that a utility company could stage construction equipment.

Read more…

27 Comments

Parks Department Detours Hudson River Greenway in Harlem Until December

The closed section of the path, looking north from 133rd Street.

The Hudson River Greenway between 133rd Street and 135th Street in West Harlem is closed until December, with users instructed to use 12th Avenue as a detour during the greenway’s busiest warm-weather months.

Detour signage instructs greenway users to travel via 12th Avenue.

Detour signage has been placed on the greenway as users approach the closed section, though our tipsters said there was no warning signage in advance of the closure.

The closed section is along a seawall bulkhead, while nearby sections are not immediately adjacent to the riverfront. It also passes a Department of Sanitation facility and a natural gas facility, both of which are located on the river and connected to the path by pier structures.

This isn’t the first time the Parks Department, which manages the Hudson River Greenway, has shut down sections of this key cycling artery to Upper Manhattan. A few years ago, Parks banned biking on greenway access paths linking to Riverside Park, but later reversed the decision. Last year, rehabilitation of a bridge over the Amtrak corridor threatened to shut the path entirely north of the George Washington Bridge. After a nor’easter last November, the the department decided to shut the path altogether.

Streetsblog has asked the Parks Department why the path is closed and what kind of work will be taking place there. We’ll let you know if we hear anything back. Update: A utility company will be performing construction work at the site, according to Parks Department spokesperson Phil Abramson. “The work is not happening on parks property but they need room for construction staging,” he wrote in an e-mail.

8 Comments

Bike Commuters Will Ride Restored High Bridge, After Taking the Stairs

Cyclists will be directed to walk their bikes on and off the High Bridge. Image: Susan Murray Donovan

The restored High Bridge will probably be open for morning and evening commutes, but cyclists will be asked to walk their bikes on and off the bridge, according to the Parks Department.

Project coordinator Ellen Macnow says the car-free bridge, which spans the Harlem River to connect Highbridge and Washington Heights, will have new ADA-compliant access ramps. Cyclists will be permitted to ride on the High Bridge itself, but since the ramps are considered too narrow for shared use, they will be directed to take stairs at each end.

“A compromise was reached between a wish for unconstrained access and for historic preservation — different options were explored at length during the design period,” said Macnow, in an email to Streetsblog. “Widening the ramps enough to meet shared use guidelines would have created large and imposing structures that overwhelmed the bridge. Ultimately, we decided to preserve the historic character as much as possible, which results in smaller ramps and most visitors using the original historic access.”

Macnow says the bridge will likely be closed at night, when the parks at each end are closed. Highbridge Park in the Bronx is currently open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and park hours on the Manhattan side are a bit longer. ”Use of the bridge will be closely monitored and hours will be adjusted if needed,” Macnow says.

An early proposal called for the rehabbed bridge to be open only during daylight hours on Saturdays and Sundays. While weekday bike hours will help, the stairs may limit the value of the bridge as a transportation link. Other bikeways run by the Parks Department face similar problems with limited or inconvenient access.

Few would question the historic significance of the city’s oldest standing bridge, but the addition of bike ramps seems minor compared to what happened in the 1920s, when part of the High Bridge was demolished and replaced by a steel span to make room for passing ships.

It’s also difficult to square concerns over aesthetics with the plan to erect an eight-foot safety fence atop the bridge, which in addition to bike access was a point of contention during the public input process. A fence will be installed, Macnow says, though it will be a cable mesh designed to minimize disruption of views.

At a groundbreaking ceremony last week, Mayor Bloomberg said the High Bridge, closed since the 1970s, will be open to the public by next year.

An aside: After the jump, we’ve posted an excellent mini-documentary from PBS Thirteen, featuring a primer from Macnow on the past, present and future of the High Bridge.

Read more…

38 Comments

Central Park Roadways Will Get More Room for Cyclists and Pedestrians

Above, a rendering of the type of roadway redesign that will be implemented in Central Park to expand space for cyclists and pedestrians. Image: DOT

This evening, DOT, the Parks Department and the Central Park Conservancy announced a change to road configurations in Central Park similar to recent changes in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. The plan [PDF] would double available pedestrian space and bring the installation of plastic posts to separate cyclists from walkers and joggers.

DOT said that it has notified local elected officials and community board leadership of the proposal and will begin implementation in October.

Lane configurations would vary within the park, but would in most locations reduce the number of motor vehicle lanes to provide more space for pedestrians and cyclists.

When reached via phone earlier today before the changes were officially announced, a spokesperson for Gale Brewer said the Upper West Side council member, a long-time advocate for car-free parks, would welcome a roadway design similar to what has been implemented in Prospect Park.

Transportation Alternatives also voiced support for the design. “Parks are for people and that’s why we’ve long supported a car-free Central Park,” TA said in a statement earlier today. “However, in the meantime, separate spaces could help. It’s a proven fact that separate spaces for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers keep everyone out of each other’s way and out of harm’s way.”

25 Comments

Eyes on the Street: New and Improved Allen Street Bikeway and Plazas

The new plaza space at Allen and Hester Street. Photo: Ben Fried

The construction barriers are down and the tables and chairs are out on Allen Street in Chinatown. While there’s still some planting and other work left to be done, the public spaces are already magnets for people. The median bikeway on the three-block stretch between Hester and Delancey is also open and rideable again.

The Allen Street capital project — an upgrade to a 2009 DOT redesign which itself followed years of grassroots community activism — has been in the works since last year. (Another upgrade to the same corridor, on Pike Street, is still fenced off.) Pedestrian injuries fell 60 percent where the initial 2009 project reclaimed space from motorized vehicles, according to DOT.

The finished median has replaced low-cost surfaces like gravel and paint with nicely-textured pavers for pedestrian spaces, sidewalk-grade bikeways, and new plantings. Chairs in the two plazas, at Broome and Hester, have been packed each time I’ve passed through around dusk. Since parks and public space are so scarce in Chinatown, these plazas are precious stuff.

With the bikeway open for business, a gap in the downtown bike network that lasted more than a year has now been mended. Reader @J_uptown got the first picture of the newly useable median and bikeway:

Photo: @J_Uptown

It’s not a space for fast biking, and where the bikeway crosses the plazas, pedestrians and cyclists have to do some negotiating. It does feel like a very safe place to ride.

More photos after the jump…

Read more…