Pedestrians: Consider Safety This Time on 81st Street Bridge
The dilapidated footbridge passingover the FDR Drive from East 81st Streetto Carl Schurz Park has seen better days.Crumbling supports, steep stairs and discoloredcement characterize this footpathbuilt in the 1940s.
The bridge is currently under close scrutinyby local Community Board 8 and theDepartment of Designs and Constructionas the entities work toward an estimated
$10 million overhaul of the bridge.The current design calls for a twoblock-
long ramp, 10 feet wide, whichwould replace the eroded stairs currentlyconnecting the walk along the water.Another facet of the project is the additionof accessible ramps to replace thestairs on 81st Street that bar access tothe promenade to mothers with baby carriagesand those in wheelchairs, accordingto Craig Chin, public informationofficer of the Department of Design andConstruction, which is responsible forthe 81st Street bridge.
The design is raising eyebrows amongsome Upper East Siders who are worried
that the reconstructed bridge will havesimilar issues to the 78th Street bridge justa few blocks south. The recently rebuiltbridge on 78th Street is shared by cyclistsand pedestrians, and that has created safetyissues, according to some locals."Some people fly through here and haveno respect for anyone else," said MichaelThompson, a writer who lives on theUpper East Side. "If I was a mother with ababy carriage, I would feel in danger."
Community Board 8 has since passeda resolution to post signs on the 78thStreet bridge that ask bikers to walk theirbikes when crossing the compacted path.While the Community Board struggleswith freewheeling bikers on the 78thStreet bridge, they want to make sure the81st Street bridge doesn't have the sameproblems."The 81st Street bridge is a barrierfreespace," said Chin. "This means thatthe bridge is open to use by dog walkers,pedestrians and cyclists."Chuck Warren, the co-chair of the CB8
transportation committee, said that thedesign phase of the 81st Street bridgehas been going on for several years. Thefirst design was released in 2008 and theBoard did not approve it because it wasclunky and "stuck out in an ugly way."
The Board has yet to take a stanceon the current design released bythe Department of Construction andDesign, according to Nicholas Viest, CB8
chairman.Warren feels there should be signsposted to raise awareness for bikers that
the bridge is shared, telling them to exercisecaution when using it."The park and bridge should be opento cyclists just so long as they follow therules and respect pedestrians," said Jim,a resident of the Upper East Side whodeclined to give his last name. "If theydrive up here at a slower pace, I wouldhave no problems with them."The bridge is currently expected totake 18 months to complete.
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