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December 28, 2017

NYC Parks and DDC Cut Ribbon on New East 81st Street Pedestrian Bridge with Councilmember Ben Kallos

Pedestrian Bridge features new ADA-Accessible Ramp easing access to the East River Esplanade

Dan Leibel

Photo Credit: NYC Parks / D. Avila

New York City – Representatives from the City’s Department of Design and Construction and NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP, joined City Councilmember Ben Kallos on Thursday to celebrate the opening of the East 81st Street pedestrian bridge, connecting the East River Esplanade at the lower level to the promenade at the upper level, known as the John Finley Walk.

DDC worked with Primer Construction Corporation and STV on the $16 Million project replacing the old pedestrian bridge originally built in 1942 with a brand new one that is now ADA accessible. Workers installed an ADA-compliant ramp measuring 452 feet long and 9 ½ feet wide. The ramp connects the new pedestrian bridge to the East River Esplanade, making it accessible to everyone. Additionally, the new pedestrian bridge features stainless steel railings and fencing, fresh concrete and new bridge bearings. The esplanade below the structure was also beautified with plantings, boulders, and shrubs as part of the project.

“DDC is pleased to present this pedestrian bridge to the public along with our partners in the Parks Department and Councilmember Kallos,” said DDC Acting Commissioner Ana Barrio. “This bridge strengthens our city by connecting neighbors and neighborhoods along the east side of Manhattan, and contributes to Mayor de Blasio’s vision for a more equitable New York City.”

“Thanks to more than $16 million in Mayoral funding, and the great work put forth by DDC, we are able to respond to the community’s request to make significant improvements to this pedestrian bridge at East 81st Street, and ensure that it is entirely ADA-accessible,” said NYC Parks Mitchell Silver “With the completion of each project on the East River, we come that much closer to closing the loop and providing all with amazing waterfront access.”

"The East River Esplanade is beloved by Upper East Siders, and this new bridge provides the ADA accessible link that was missing. Opening this bridge will help so many of our neighbors in their daily routines, and create a beautiful vantage point to view the East River," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "The new bridge is both practical and great to look at, thanks to The Department of Parks and The Department of Design and Construction's commitment to working with the East 79th Street Neighborhood Association, Community Board 8, and CIVITAS on design improvements and executing that vision. I am sure joggers, especially in the coming spring, will appreciate it and take advantage of a job well done."

New East 81st Street pedestrian bridge connects the East River Esplanade to the upper level promenade and includes an ADA-compliant ramp.

“The reopening of the 81st Street bridge will allow our community the unimpeded access we deserve in order to fully enjoy the Esplanade once again,” said Assembly Member Rebecca A. Seawright.  “Government must vigorously focus on infrastructure renovation and repair in order to maintain and enhance the quality of life of our neighborhood.  Today’s development is a major step forward.”

"I thank the DDC, Commissioner Silver and Councilman Kallos for their most thoughtful planning of this pedestrian bridge.  It is the crucial gateway to the East River Esplanade,” said Jim Clynes, Chairman of Manhattan Community Board 8.   “With the completion of this bridge, Eastsiders will be able to enjoy the Esplanade without interruption or detours.  It's a wonderful holiday gift to the residents of Community Board 8.”

"The improved accessibility afforded by this Pedestrian Bridge allows our community, other New Yorkers, and tourists to take better advantage of our location along the East River and strengthens our connection to the City’s significant maritime history,” said Alida Camp, Incoming Chair of Manhattan Community Board 8.

The new L-shaped bridge was designed to give New Yorkers a scenic view of the East River  through glass panels that will be installed in early 2018. The East 81st Street pedestrian bridge which crosses over 3 travel lanes of the northbound FDR Drive officially opened to pedestrians on December 17th.

About the NYC Department of Design and Construction
The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor de Blasio’s lenses of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, new or upgraded roadways, sewers, water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $15 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative, and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to city projects. For more information, please visit

About the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation
NYC Parks is the steward of more than 30,000 acres of land — 14 percent of New York City — including more than 5,000 individual properties ranging from Coney Island Beach and Central Park to community gardens and Greenstreets. They operate more than 800 athletic fields and nearly 1,000 playgrounds, 1,800 basketball courts, 550 tennis courts, 65 public pools, 51 recreational facilities, 15 nature centers, 14 golf courses, and 14 miles of beaches. NYC Parks cares for 1,200 monuments and 23 historic house museums. They look after 600,000 street trees, and two million more in parks. NYC Parks is New York City's principal provider of recreational and athletic facilities and programs. Additionally, they are home to free concerts, world-class sports events, and cultural festivals.