Parks and DOT: Still No Timeline for Reopening Key Uptown Greenway Bridge

Frustrated with the lack of information from the city, locals will rally at the bridge on Sunday.

Here's how the bridge looked when it was abruptly closed in August. Photo: Liz Marcello
Here's how the bridge looked when it was abruptly closed in August. Photo: Liz Marcello

One month after the Parks Department and the Department of Transportation shuttered a key link in the uptown segment of the Hudson River Greenway, the agencies have yet to announce a timeline for it to be repaired and reopened.

Upper Manhattanites are fuming that the city has failed to keep the public updated about the future of the bridge.

“I don’t even know who to complain to,” said Liz Marcello of Washington Heights. “You can’t just block this major thoroughfare and expect that no one is going to get angry. It’s totally insane.”

The bridge — which runs through Fort Washington Park just north of the George Washington Bridge, parallel to 181st Street — has been out-of-commission since August 24, the day after Streetsblog ran a story calling attention to its shabby condition. The Parks Department promised “immediate repairs” and attributed the closure to “an abundance of caution,” but neither it nor DOT has provided any other details.

“Was it about to collapse and they just didn’t tell us until we started tweeting about it?” asked Marcello. “Why did they shut it down only after we started complaining about?”

Streetsblog has reached out repeatedly to both agencies as well as Amtrak, which owns the tracks beneath the bridge, demanding a timeline for repairs and a description of what structural repairs the bridge currently requires. The agencies won’t talk.

It didn’t have to turn out this way: A full rehabilitation of the bridge has been in the works for nearly a decade, and the design process finally wrapped up last month. That project was supposed to begin in the second half of 2019, Parks spokesperson Crystal Howard said recently. The current closure is apparently only for “interim repairs.”

With the bridge closed, uptown bike commuters must either take local streets down to the 158th Street entrance or opt for a mulched-covered path that cuts through the park over a George Washington Bridge emergency on-ramp.

“It’s pretty much a seven-day-a-week disruption in my commuting,” said Sierra Pasquale, also of Washington Heights. Pasquale said she initially took the Parks-recommended detour on local streets, but DOT construction on 158th Street made the route unsafe. Now, she opts for the mulched path.

“The detour they were sending it on was more dangerous than going through the woods,” she said.

On Sunday, Marcello and Pasquale will rally on the north side of the bridge to agitate the city to hasten the repairs and get it back open as soon as possible.

“I would hope it would inspire more people to get directly in touch with parks and DOT,” Marcello said. “If enough people complain about it, they’ll fix it — or they’ll at least provide us information.”

Hundreds of cyclists per day need that bridge to continue on the Greenway, whose Midtown and Downtown sections are the busiest bike path in the country.