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CI Garden Club wants to discuss bridge design

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Despite what has appeared like a done deal, with everyone from Mayor Michael Bloomberg to important city agencies expecting to build a new cable-stayed bridge to replace the current City Island Bridge, one group considers the matter of bridge design still open for discussion.

The Garden Club of City Island, a group not known in the past for its political activism, has taken a stand on what they consider to be an important part of the legacy of their community and its future viability.

This month, the garden club sent a letter to Councilman Jimmy Vacca, and copied Mayor Bloomberg, Borough President Carrion, and Community Board 10 district manager Kenneth Kearns, asking that a causeway design, as opposed to a cable-stayed bridge with a large super-structure in the shape of a sail, be considered by the Department of Transportation.

“Though we agree that our current bridge’s infrastructure is sufficiently decayed that a new span must be considered, we believe that the proposed cable suspension bridge with at least a 150-foot tower is not suitable for connecting City Island to the mainland,” read the statement signed by Barbara Hoffman, president club.

The garden club proposed a bridge of similar design, though much smaller, to the newly completed I-35 Bridge in Minneapolis, built after a tragic collapse that claimed several lives.

The causeway design, according to the letter from the garden club, meets the primary design goals of the new City Island Bridge, namely no part of the structure is in the water, it has low maintenance overhead, and utility lines can be incorporated into the body of the bridge.

“When the city made its presentation to the City Island Civic Association, we were told we needed a superstructure because we couldn’t have stanchions in the water,” said Barbara Kaye, corresponding secretary of the garden club. “Now we realize that the technology is available to make a causeway bridge without having stanchions in the water. This can be seen on the new bridge in Minneapolis.”

Kaye said that she and most of the other members of the garden club feel that islanders think that the superstructure does not fit with the nautical community, and indeed, there was much ferment when the plan was presented to a full-meeting of the CICA. Nevertheless, the DOT said they plan on proceeding with the current design.

“The City Island Civic Association, as well as CB 10 agreed with the design of the new City Island Bridge, and have been involved in discussions for the past several years,” said DOT spokesman Craig Chin. “Whatever the case, no one has brought these concerns to us.”

Councilman Jimmy Vacca’s office is still looking into the matter, but the construction of the new bridge may be delayed at any rate by the slowdown in both the New York City and national economies.

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