Open For Business. The Wards Island Bridge - also known as the 103rd Street Footbridge - opened on Friday morning after a long-awaited two-year, $ 16.8 million makeover. The pedestrian bridge is a vital link from East Harlem and the Upper Eastside to Wards and Randall's Island. For many decades the bridge's middle section - which lifts to allow ships to pass under it - was kept raised for five months of the year. The public's limited access had been a major source of contention in the community for years. The bridge will now be open year-round. New security measures accompany the renovated bridge's new hours. (Photos: © Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on image to enlarge.
By Geoffrey Croft
East Side waterfront park users have much to celebrate as a much beloved pedestrian bridge has been newly restored with greatly expanded access.
New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito announced the re-opening of the Wards Island pedestrian bridge on Friday, marking the completion of a long awaited $16.8 million infrastructure project to rehabilitate a vital pedestrian and bicycle link from East Harlem and the Upper Eastside to Wards and Randall's Island.
A Welcome Sight. Ward's Island Bridge looking West towards East Harlem. For decades the bridge was being closed from late October to Spring. It will now be open 365 days.
As part of the project, which began in June 2010, the contractor replaced the bridge’s existing grid deck on the lift span and 12 bridge bearings, overhauled the bridge’s electrical control system and performed repairs to deteriorating parts of the bridge according to the DOT. Work included installing new ADA compliant railings, new pedestrian fencing, new guard rails, and 25 new lights.
A number of new security measures were also put in place. Two NYPD ARGUS and Department of Transportation cameras with zoom functions were installed. The high-tech cameras feed live video into the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center. An emergency call box was also installed at the foot of the bridge on the Ward's Island side.
A number of landscape improvements were also made around the bridge and a long-out-of-service water fountain was also replaced.
Access Denied. The bridge's closing for 5 months of the year was a major source of contention.
For many decades the bridge's middle section - which lifts to allow ships to pass under it - was kept raised for five months of the year. The public's limited access had been a major source of contention in the community for years. The bridge will now be open year-round, the first time in at least thirty years.
“Despite being so close to Manhattan, Ward’s Island and Randall’s Island have been inaccessible for far too long," said Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito.
"This bridge reopens vital parkland for East Harlem residents and will allow many more New Yorkers to take advantage of sports fields, picnic grounds, and spectacular views of New York City. This bridge will now be open year-round, no longer limiting access to the park during the winter," she said.
“Wards Island has been a great backyard for thousands of New Yorkers, who live just a few thousand feet from here. But up until now, it’s been very difficult to access,” said Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. "It’s been a bridge too far for pedestrians."
$1.5 million in funding came from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
A big celebration begins today at 10:00am.
The Wards Island Bridge - also known as the 103rd Street Footbridge - opened on May 18, 1951 and was completed at a cost of $2.1 million. The pedestrian bridge crosses the Harlem River between Manhattan and Wards Island.
Designed by master bridge engineer Othmar Hermann Ammann (March 26, 1879 – September 22, 1965) who is remarkably responsible for more than half of the bridges that connect the City to the mainland. The architecture and engineering firm founded by Mr. Ammann, Ammann & Whitney, provided services for this project.
Opening Up The Bridge. On Friday morning contractors tended to last minute details including removing the construction fencing and caution tape on the Manhattan side.
The 103rd Street Footbridge — also known as the Wards Island Bridge — as it looked while under construction in 1950. It reopened on Friday after a $16.8 million renovation. (Photo: NY Daily News file)
NYPD's Argus system of wireless cameras are housed in large white boxes and are clearly marked with the NYPD insignia. They are set about 20 feet off the ground across the span of bridge. The cameras first began appearing in the City in 2006 and have captured hundreds images used to help investigators, police said.
"The cameras have proven to be an important law enforcement tool to deter crime and investigate past crimes," said Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne, the NYPD's chief spokesman.
On Friday, Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito and New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan were joined by contractors for the opening of the $ 16. 8 million dollar project. (Photos: © Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates)
NY 1 - June 1, 2012 - By Roger Clark
CBS - June 1, 2012 - By Rich Lamb
Footbridge linking East Harlem to Randalls Island to re-open after 2-year, $16.8M makeover Will afford 24/7 pedestrian access to island for first time in 30 years
New York Daily News - June 1, 2012 - By Douglas Feinden
DOT Press Release - June 1, 2012
WABC - May 21, 2012
A Walk In The Park - May 8, 2012 - By Geoffrey Croft