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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release #10-24

Seth Solomonow/Nicole Garcia (212) 839-4850

NYC DOT Commissioner and Council Member Mark-Viverito Reopen Wards Island Bridge

Significant upgrades made possible with $1.5 million in ARRA funding help establish a 24/7, year-round connection to world-class recreation at Randall’s Island

New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito today announced the re-opening of the Wards Island pedestrian bridge, marking the completion of a $16.8 million infrastructure project supported with $1.5 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding to rehabilitate a vital pedestrian and bicycle link to Wards Island, to its eponymous park and to the many recreation opportunities at Randall’s Island. 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. In addition to these structural improvements, security upgrades now allow the bridge to remain open year-round, instead of the limited six-month run during peak park use during spring and summer. The bridge’s rehabilitation complemented the work by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation to build and maintain world-class sports and recreation facilities at Randall’s Island, including baseball, soccer and softball fields.

“Wards Island is a backyard for thousands of East Harlem residents, but it’s been a bridge too far for pedestrians wanting to visit its many attractions during the last 18 months,” said Commissioner Sadik-Khan. “Today we’re raising the curtain on a new walkway to Wards Island, reopening this treasure for local residents and all New Yorkers, and part of the Administration’s more than $5 billion in bridge investments.”

“We are so excited to have the 103rd Street Footbridge open in time for Saturday’s FLOW.12 event, offering a conduit for the community to rediscover Randall’s Island Park and experience all the great things to do in the park,” said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe.  “I am grateful to the NYC Department of Transportation for their efforts in restoring this crucial access point and to the Randall’s Island Park Alliance for all of their work in providing an innovative and exciting destination for a wide range of sports, cultural events and environmental exploration.”

“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, and complementing the new world-class baseball, softball, and soccer fields on the island. I invite all New Yorkers to take advantage of this new footbridge, thanks to the work of the NYC Departments of Transportation and Parks & Recreation, and take part in the FLOW.12 festival.”

“It’s about time that we made it easier for our kids to get to Little League games,” said Congressman Charles B. Rangel. “Thanks to the City of New York's contributions and President Obama's stimulus package, which secured the funding that made this achievement a reality, New Yorkers can now enjoy the greener pastures of Wards Island.”

During the spring and fall construction seasons, the project employed 50 trade and construction workers who, in addition to structural repairs installed pedestrian fencing and handrails along the entire 1,247 feet of the span and planted five dogwood trees, turf, vines and thousands of pachysandra and daffodils as part of landscape enhancements on the Wards Island side. Workers also applied an epoxy overlay to the bridge deck to create a smooth surface and removed graffiti from the project site. Work also included the installation of 25 new lights that illuminate the path and help enhance safety.

Also known as the 103rd Street Footbridge, the 60-year old Wards Island pedestrian bridge connects Manhattan to 480-acres of outdoor space managed by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, with the sports facilities operated by the Randall’s Island Sports Foundation through a partnership with that agency. While work was underway, DOT worked closely with the Parks Department to coordinate the bridge’s reopening last summer and fall to accommodate park uses.

DOT oversees the care and maintenance of 787 bridge structures in New York City. With more than $5 billion in reconstruction projects, including work to rehabilitate the East River Bridges, the St. George Staten Island Ferry Terminal ramps—the largest 100% ARRA-funded project in the state—and other significant bridge upgrades, the city’s bridge inventory is in the best condition in generations. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/dot.

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