Parks Dept. Indefinitely Shutters Crucial Fort Washington Park Bridge On Nation’s Busiest Greenway

Access to the span has been prohibited since Aug. 24, inconveniencing thousands.

Thou shalt not pass. This key bridge on the Hudson River Greenway will be out for more than a year. Photo: Liz Marcello
Thou shalt not pass. This key bridge on the Hudson River Greenway will be out for more than a year. Photo: Liz Marcello

A key link in the uptown segment of the Hudson River Greenway has been out of commission for almost two weeks — and there’s no timeline for when it will reopen.

The bridge as been the subject of Greenway users’ ire because it has been in disrepair — and riven by holes above the Amtrak rails — for many months. Then on August 23, Streetsblog reported that someone — presumably from the Parks Department — attempted to patch it up with plywood. But the next day, the city announced that it had shut off access to the bridge completely so it could conduct a safety inspection “out of an abundance of caution.”

Parks and DOT say they are planning “immediate repairs,” which have yet to be scheduled, according to Parks Department spokesperson Crystal Howard. As such, the bridge remains closed.

As an alternative, the city wants commuters on the country’s most popular bike path to exit via 181st Street and ride on local streets on a steep incline. The closest place to reenter the park is 23 blocks south, at 158th Street.

On Twitter, Jesse Levin shared an alternative — and treacherous — route that avoids exiting the park but is mostly on a dirt path and requires traversing an emergency service ramp a 35 mile-an-hour highway on-ramp.

Others have not been so brave.

“I’m too scared to try. I’ve just been riding Riverside Drive,” said 186th Street resident Liz Marcello. “I have elderly neighbors In my building who had a daily routine of walking down to the river. And now they can’t. It’s so sad.”

A full-scale $5.7 million rehabilitation of the bridge has been in the works for nearly a decade, but just wrapped up design last month — two and a half years behind schedule. The Parks Department did not provide an explanation for the delays or a timeline moving forward.

The immediate repair work will be done by DOT, but it has not been scheduled yet. The Parks Department said it is not clear how long the work will take — any repair work has to be scheduled in coordination with Amtrak.

Hard to imagine the same scenario if this crucial roadway carried cars instead of bikes and pedestrians.

Update: Reader Kevin Krautle provided a little more insight into the route described above.