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Posts from the "East River Greenway" Category

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CB 6 Supports Murray Hill Bikeway If DOT Will Move It to Other Side of Street

A proposed two-way bike path on 37th Street would be safer on the north side of the street, but CB 6 asked DOT to move it to the south side after opposition from condo owners. Image: DOT

Last night, Manhattan Community Board 6 threatened to stall bikeway improvements connecting the East River Greenway with Murray Hill, because a group of condo owners opposed one piece of it. But a last-minute compromise seems to have cleared the way for the project.

The plan [PDF] would improve the surface of the East River Greenway near Glick Park, add shared lane markings to crosstown streets, and convert a block of the First Avenue bike lane to a two-way path. It would also add a two-way bike lane on one block of 37th Street to connect First Avenue with the East River Greenway.

At last night’s meeting, residents of The Horizon condominium tower testified against the 37th Street path because it would remove a loading zone on the north side of the street, immediately outside their building. Supporters of the plan were outnumbered. Intimidated by the opposition, a CB 6 member offered a resolution to send the issue back to committee, where it would have to wait until the community board resumed meetings in September.

Things looked bleak until the end of the meeting, when board members began to discuss a compromise: moving the path to the south side of the street.

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Tonight: Speak Up for a Safe East River Greenway Bike Connection

Adding a two-way protected bike lane and striping lanes on a wide, expansive street? Might get some opposition from condo residents in Murray Hill tonight. Image: DOT

Adding a two-way protected bike lane and striping lanes on a wide, expansive street? Might get some opposition from condo residents in Murray Hill tonight. Image: DOT

Last week, Manhattan Community Board 6′s transportation committee voted in favor of a plan to make it safer to access the East River Greenway from bike lanes on First and Second Avenue. But implementation isn’t guaranteed yet. Supporters of the plan will need to make their voices heard at CB 6′s full board meeting tonight, where opposition is expected from residents of a condominium tower upset about a proposed two-way protected bike lane in front of their building.

The plan would put a bike path in place of a loading zone on 37th Street between First Avenue and FDR Drive. This area is currently used for drop-offs by residents of The Horizon, “an exceptional full service, white glove condominium,” according to a description on StreetEasy.

Drivers will still be able to use the loading zone on the south side of 37th Street, and access to parking garages on the north side of the street will remain. Although the committee debated the merits of putting the lane on the south side of the street, it eventually sided with DOT’s recommendation to place it on the north side, which would involve fewer street crossings for greenway-bound southbound cyclists.

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East River Greenway Links, Third Ave Bus Lane Upgrades Go Before CB 6

east_side_gway

Dotted blue lines show new shared lane markings, the dotted purple line indicates a new two-way bikeway, and the dotted green line shows improvements to the existing greenway route. Map: NYC DOT

From sudden collapses to botched repairs, the current condition of the East River Greenway is a far cry from the vision of a continuous path on Manhattan’s eastern shore. While filling in the greenway’s gaps could take at least a decade, there are some small, short-term gains on the table. On Monday, Community Board 6′s transportation committee backed a slate of bike improvement that aim to make accessing the greenway from Murray Hill a little bit easier.

The East River Greenway could get some upgrades in Murray Hill. Image: DOT

The East River Greenway could get some upgrades and better connections in Murray Hill. Image: DOT

The plan, first reported by DNAinfo, aims to improve access to Glick Park, a Citi Bike station on the greenway, and the 34th Street landing for the East River Ferry. After presenting the plan to the committee on May 5, DOT held a walk-through of the project with committee members on May 19.

The proposal [PDF] would improve the greenway surface and markings between 34th and 37th Streets, and add a short, two-way bikeway on the north side of 37th Street between the FDR Drive service road and First Avenue. It also adds shared lane markings on a pair of crosstown streets and converts one block of the First Avenue protected bike lane to a two-way path.

Southbound cyclists looking to avoid the chaotic Queens Midtown Tunnel entrance at Second Avenue and 37th Street would be able to turn right at 38th Street, which would have shared lane markings for one block until First Avenue. From there, they could turn right onto the two-way block of the First Avenue protected bike lane before making a left onto the new two-way path on 37th Street to connect to the greenway.

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What Might “Brooklyn Bridge Beach” Mean for the East Side Greenway?

Will the roll-out of splashy projects like the beach proposed for this site by the Brooklyn Bridge help advance a continuous greenway along the East River? Image: WXY architecture + urban design

This morning, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced that collectively, they had dedicated $7 million in capital funds to build what’s being called Brooklyn Bridge Beach. The aim of the new site beneath the iconic span is to attract New Yorkers to the East River waterfront and blunt the impact of storm surges.

Along with other projects on the East River, the beach could contribute to a high-quality, continuous greenway. But even as individual projects like the hypothetical beach gather momentum, planning for an East Side complement to the Hudson River Greenway remains scattered among a constellation of agencies and projects.

The beach is the first project to receive funding among the recommendations in the Blueway Plan, a vision for the waterfront between 38th Street and the Brooklyn Bridge released by Stringer and Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh in February. (The plan’s pricey highlight is a bridge deck over the FDR Drive near 14th Street that would improve access to East River Park and eliminate a pinch point in the greenway route.)

In February, Stringer said he was committing $3.5 million in capital funds to the construction of marshland along the riverfront; Quinn’s beach announcement signals the arrival of matching capital funds from the City Council, and Stringer hinted that more money could be on its way. ”This is now money that we can leverage with the state and federal government,” he said.

Despite the commitment of funds, there are still important details missing from the proposal for the 11,000 square-foot beach. Conceptual renderings were produced for the Blueway Plan by WXY architecture + urban design, but the proposal does not include a more developed design. There is no timeline for completion of the project, nor is there an estimate of how much it will cost. And it remains to be seen whether the beach project would bring significant upgrades to the East River Greenway, which currently runs underneath the FDR Drive at this location.

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EDC: Phased East River Greenway Gaps Set to Be Filled by 2024

Support structures built in 2004 for a temporary roadway during FDR Drive reconstruction could be reused for the esplanade. This section could open as early as 2018, with other sections opening in 2015 and 2024. Photo: EDC

For years, the Hudson River Greenway has been the star of Manhattan’s greenway network, while usage of its East River sibling has been damped by a deteriorating pathway and gaps in the route. Now, with a renewed focus on the East Side waterfront, momentum is growing to complete the greenway, even though completion is more than a decade away.

One of the most important projects is filling the greenway’s gap through Midtown, currently under study by the city’s Economic Development Corporation. Sixty percent of the $5 million planning process is funded by the United Nations Development Corporation, and the remainder is from federal, state, and city funds. A deal between the city and the United Nations, brokered by state legislation, will enable the construction of a continuous waterfront greenway from 38th Street to 60th Street.

Last night, EDC hosted a meeting with the project’s community working group, and revealed some new information about the timeline for completing the greenway’s missing link.

To extend the greenway north from 38th to 41st Streets, $13 million from Con Edison would restore a deteriorating structure that the utility used for fuel deliveries, known as Waterside Pier, along a roughly 45-foot wide route that would open to the public in 2015. The greenway past the United Nations campus would be the last to open, in 2024, and the design would have to address security concerns likely to restrict access to First Avenue.

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Eyes on the Street: Reconstructing the East River Greenway

Looking north from Houston Street. Photo: Stephen Miller

Last week, we reported about the Blueway Plan for the East River waterfront, which includes a deck over the FDR Drive at 14th Street to fix a notorious pinch point in the East Side greenway. In the meantime, the greenway is receiving some nuts-and-bolts upgrades.

The bikeway in East River Park, long prone to ponding, is being reconstructed and repaved from East 7th Street to Corlears Hook Park, south of Grand Street. The project should be completed by the end of March and is being paid for by Con Edison, which had previously installed an electrical line beneath the path, according to the Parks Department.

Construction in East River Park at Houston Street has closed access to the bikeway but promises a puddle-free ride when finished in March. Photos: Stephen Miller

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Sneak Preview: Stringer’s “Blueway Plan” for East River Greenway

The East River Blueway plan proposes an elevated greenway to improve connections for cyclists and pedestrians around the ConEd plant at 14th Street. Image: WXY architecture + urban design

Compared to its West Side counterpart, the East River Greenway needs some help. It could serve as a continuous waterfront park and a trunk route for bicycling on the East Side, but it’s hampered by missing links, poor maintenance, and the barrier created by the FDR Drive. Today at his State of the Borough address, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer is unveiling the East River Blueway Plan, laying out a vision for the park from the Brooklyn Bridge to 38th Street.

Among the plan’s recommendations: replacing a pinch point on the greenway — the section shoehorned between speeding traffic and the ConEd plant at 15th Street – with an elevated path rising above the FDR Drive.

By the ConEd plant at 15th Street, the East Side greenway is an ugly, five-foot wide path where cyclists can't pass each other comfortably. Photo: Kim Martineau

A big-ticket item like the new bridge won’t be cheap, however, and so far there is no proposal for how to fund it. Stringer has pledged $3.5 million to construct marshland included in the plan, according to the Times.

The Blueway Plan, organized in 2011 by Stringer and Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh in partnership with the Lower East Side Ecology Center and Community Boards 3 and 6, is supported by a state grant dedicated to waterfront revitalization. A draft version from summer 2012 [PDF] identified neighborhood access and waterfront continuity as two of the project’s five goals, and listed places where park access across FDR Drive could be improved.

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Efforts to Close East River Greenway Gap Advance With Feasibility Study

Right now, cyclists riding the East River Esplanade are forced onto the wide and unsafe First Avenue for 22 blocks in Midtown. Photo: Kim Martineau

New York took a step forward today in attempts to close the 22 block gap in the East River Esplanade, which forces cyclists into traffic in the ultra-congested heart of Midtown and deprives East Side communities of valuable riverfront open space. Thanks to state and federal funding, including an earmark from Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, the New York City Economic Development Corporation put out a request for a feasibility study looking at how to build a greenway along the East River between 38th and 60th Streets.

Building that continuous route would create a long-missing trunk for north-south bike travel along the East Side of Manhattan. The continuous greenway along the West Side is the busiest bike path in the country, and riders from the East Side will go out of their way to use it instead of biking on Manhattan’s wide avenues.

The study covers a variety of topics, from a broad conceptual design to the integration of the bikeway with the street network and from structural engineering to cost estimation. While the study moves the project forward, a completed greenway on the East Side remains years away. The RFP says that the contract for the feasibility study alone would last two years.

Today’s announcement won plaudits from every elected official in the area.

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The Dangers and Indignities of Riding the East River Greenway

Photo: Kim Martineau

Cyclists and pedestrians feel the squeeze where the East River Greenway narrows at this Con Ed facility near 13th Street, with zooming FDR traffic a few feet away. Photo: Kim Martineau

Above 34th Street, the East Side of Manhattan is unforgiving for cyclists, without any real provision to ride safely and quickly. The one dedicated path for bicycling, the East River Greenway, is barely usable for practical trips — the gap between 38th Street and 63rd Street being the most prominent of several flaws. On a ride organized by Transportation Alternatives this Sunday, Michael Auerbach of neighborhood group Upper Green Side led a group of about 20 cyclists, including City Council Member Dan Garodnick, on a tour of the greenway path to take in its pinch points, shoddy surfaces, and other shortcomings. Here’s a short photo tour of the trip from 6th Street to 63rd Street, with an assist from TA’s Kim Martineau.

The city has begun exploring a plan that would plug the greenway gap using funds secured through a land swap with the United Nations. If, after looking at these pictures, you’re wondering about what you can do to support a better greenway, it may helpful to keep in mind Garodnick’s parting message from the Sunday tour: “Communicate to your elected officials.”

Photo: Ben Fried

Photo: Ben Fried

The pathway narrows and cyclists must dismount in front of the Crow’s Nest, sandwiched between the FDR Drive and the East River, before riding through the restaurant’s parking lot.

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Eyes on the Street: Sudden Collapse in East River Greenway

east_side_cavein.jpgThe East River Greenway collapsed at 72nd Street without the usual warning signs. Photo: seth_holliday/Flickr

Gothamist posted this alarming picture of a cave-in on the East River Greenway that first appeared on Wednesday. After the initial fencing off and some calls to 311, the city responded by installing the temporary span shown below.

east_side_cavein_fix.jpgPhoto: Erin Lamberty

I'm not a regular rider of the East Side path, but reader BicyclesOnly tells us that sinkholes and cave-ins in the greenway are common occurrences. Usually a depression forms in the surface of the path first, giving some signal about what's in store. What's rare about the collapse at 72nd Street is that it happened without those warning signs, and that the city responded quickly and put in a temporary pathway. (Although the planks look like an iffy proposition for cyclists to handle without dismounting first.)

At other sinkholes, the fencing remains in place, narrowing the greenway path and creating pinch points that put the squeeze on bicycle and pedestrian traffic, some of which linger for years. Right now there are large sinkholes fenced off at 110th Street and 118th Street. One pothole, at 64th Street, has been fenced off since 2006 with no permanent fix. Another, at 74th Street, is still surrounded by fencing after three years.

We have a request in with the Parks Department to see if there are any initiatives in the works to prevent these recurring hazards from happening. The only protected bicycling facility on the East Side is incomplete, riddled with pinch points, and in terrible physical condition. The suddenness of this week's cave-in suggests that the sorry state of the greenway poses a danger that can't be ignored any longer.