FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 26, 2008
MAYOR BLOOMBERG OPENS RESTORED ACCESS PATH AT HIGHBRIDGE PARK, ONE OF EIGHT REGIONAL PARKS REDEVELOPED UNDER PLANYC
Mayor Bloomberg and Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe today opened the Highbidge Access Path in Highbridge Park in Manhattan. The $4.2 million Access Path project is part of the PlaNYC initiative to reopen the High Bridge and is also one of eight regional parks throughout the five boroughs that will be redeveloped as part of PlaNYC. The path creates access for pedestrians, bicyclists and service vehicles through Highbridge Park to the High Bridge, and establishes a safe and inviting connection between Highbridge Park and the surrounding neighborhood. In addition to the new pathway, the iron stairway that connects the High Bridge to the park’s historic water tower has been restored for public use. The Mayor and Commissioner Benepe were joined by Assembly Member Adriano Espaillat, Council Member Miguel Martinez, Department of Environmental Protection First Deputy Commissioner Steven Lawitts, Community Board 12 Chair Manny Velasquez, and Phillip Eng, deputy regional director of the State Transportation Department.
“Today we are restoring the missing access between the upper level of Highbridge Park and the City’s oldest bridge, the High Bridge, which we plan to reopen as part of PlaNYC, our bold agenda for a greener, greater city.” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Thanks to the support of many community organizations who have worked side by side with the Parks Department to bring the park back from decades neglect, the park is at the beginning of a new era. I’d like to think that the High Bridge will do for uptown and the Bronx what the High Line is going to do to revitalize the neighborhoods along the Hudson River.”
“Highbridge Park’s new bike and pedestrian paths give New Yorkers another reason to get outdoors and keep active for their health,” said Commissioner Benepe. “Thanks to the Mayor’s commitment of $60 million to restore the High Bridge as part of PlaNYC, the oldest bridge in New York City will once again provide an important connection for Manhattan and the Bronx. The access path will serve visitors to the High Bridge by providing a well-marked route to explore the park’s wooded paths and waterfront vistas.”
The project was funded with a $2.2 million allocation by the City and $2 million in federal grants. When the redevelopment of the High Bridge is completed as a PlaNYC regional park, the structure’s stone masonry and steel arches, brick walkways, handrails, and safety fencing will be restored and repainted. Also included in the plan are handicap access, stabilization of the aqueduct pipe inside the bridge, and the addition of signs to explain the bridge’s history in New York City.
The High Bridge was the first aqueduct of its kind in the United States. It brought potable water from the Croton River in Westchester to Manhattan. Upon its opening in 1848, the High Bridge, with its beautiful arches spanning the river between steep, wooded banks, quickly became an attraction for New Yorkers and tourists as well as a favorite subject for artists and photographers.
PlaNYC encompasses the redevelopment of eight regional parks throughout the City, including $60 million to reopen and restore the High Bridge. Other sites funded through the plan are Fort Washington Park in Manhattan; Soundview Park in the Bronx; Calvert Vaux Park and the McCarren Park Pool in Brooklyn; Highland Park and Rockaway Parks in Queens; and Ocean Breeze Park on Staten Island.
Stuart Loeser / Jason Post (212) 788-2958
Phil Abramson (Parks & Recreation)
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