A critical link in the Bronx River Greenway is getting a funding boost from the feds that should help put an end to years of bureaucratic delays.
Yesterday the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded New York City a $10 million TIGER grant to build out walking and biking paths and bridges connecting two parks along the Bronx River. The project will fill a gap in the greenway so people can avoid a dangerous highway ramp.
The project consists of three bridges and .75 miles of paths directly linking Concrete Plant Park to the south and Starlight Park to the north. Without this link, the only route along the river between the two parks involves crossing a Sheridan Expressway access ramp.
The state DOT had years ago committed funds to the project, estimated in 2008 to cost $35.7 million, but that funding expired in 2009 after the department could not reach an agreement about one of the greenway bridges with Amtrak, whose Acela Express runs along the river between the two parks. In 2013, the first segment of Starlight Park opened, and the Bronx River Alliance called on the state and city to get the greenway project done as part of the second segment.
With the $10 million from the feds announced Monday, a $7 to $10 million funding shortfall remains, according to Claudia Ibaven of the Bronx River Alliance. In addition to the TIGER grant, the project has a commitment of $12 million from the city and additional funding from various state, federal, and non-profit agencies.
The project does have the attention of major elected officials. In a statement announcing the TIGER award, Senators Charles Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Congressman Jose Serrano all lauded the grant as an important step in the pursuit of better pedestrian and bicycle routes in the Bronx.
“This link is essential to making the Bronx River Greenway a truly viable non-motorized transportation network that promotes sustainability and healthy transportation options for South Bronx neighborhoods, which have historically been deprived of open space, bicycle and pedestrian trails, and waterfront access,” Gillibrand said in the statement.