Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bridge of the Week #56: Bronx Shore Footbridge

Well, how about that, another footbridge! This one isn't even done yet. It's a footbridge between the Bronx and the north end of Randall's Island over Bronx Kill, and it sits underneath the Hell Gate Bridge (train bridge) viaduct. It will connect what will apparently be some new bike paths in South Bronx at 132 St. and approximately Willow Ave. with a bike path under construction on Randall's Island and Wards Island, which will sit underneath said viaduct for its entire length on the islands.

I shouldn't call it a footbridge, since it will also get heavy cycling use. People can currently walk across the Bronx leg of the Triborough Bridge, only a few hundred yards to the west, but cyclists are supposed to walk their bikes across. And with that bridge's height and length, this simple footbridge will be much more convenient not just for cyclists, but for kids and older folk. I don't even know if I should call it the Bronx Shore Footbridge, but the web site for Randall's Island calls it that, so that's good enough for now.

This bridge was first planned way back in 2001, with funding from the New York Power Authority. It was to be community remuneration for some power plants they wanted to build in the Bronx. But eventually remuneration took the form of power-saving endeavors in the Bronx, and plans for the bridge were shelved. The plan was later revived with help from ConEd, who wanted to put power lines on the underside of the bridge. This is not without controversy, as canoers and kayakers say the with the cable ducts, the low-lying bridge will be impossible to get under at high tide, and at low tide the water of is sometimes too shallow to paddle. And the Bronx Kill is otherwise a perfect place to canoe or kayak because of its lack of commercial traffic. But it looks like the plan is going ahead. If you look closely at the top picture you can see the ducts and how close they are to the water. The bridge will supposedly be done (as of August 2010) in mid-2012. The bridge structure has been in place since at least May 2009. Doesn't look that tough, but what do I know. To be fair, they had to remove some old ducts and install the new ones before surfacing the bridge. But let's hope they git 'er done.

Actually it will be very nice, and is expected to really open up Randall's Island and Wards Island to Bronx residents. There are a lot of new ball fields that have just opened up in that northeast corner of the island as well, the "Sunken Meadow" area.

Pics: 1. The bridge under construction (it's fenced off, but I stuck the camera over the fence); 2. Location of future bike path on Randall's Island south from the bridge.

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