Construction on a long-awaited pedestrian bridge connecting the east and west sides of Van Cortlandt Park should be underway soon.
Coming on the same day as a notice of activation of the Croton Water Filtration Plant in the park, a group of elected officials, city agency commissioners and advocates took part in a Friday, May 15 announcement that a new pedestrian bridge over the Major Deegan Expressway will link the whole park together when completed.
The pedestrian bridge will span the expressway near the Shandler Recreation Area and the Croton Woods, and comes as a result of a study requested by the community after the 1999 decision to site the massive underground water filtration plant in the park.
“Van Cortlandt Park is a treasure of the Bronx,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie at the announcement, with the assembly allocating $3 million for the $12 million project. “This pedestrian bridge will increase access and use of the vast park space to all Bronx residents.”
Senator Jeff Klein was able to secure a $1 million allocation from the upper chamber of the legislature.
“By investing in our parks, we are not only ensuring children and families have a top quality space to play and spend time, but significantly improving our city’s infrastructure for future generations,” said Senator Klein, who added “By opening up the park and better connecting previously isolated sections, the new footbridge will increase access to a vital community asset for countless residents, visitors and tourists.”
DEP and Parks have allocated $4 million each for the project.
Christina Taylor, executive director Friends of Van Cortlandt Park executive director, said that unfortunately it took a decade for a feasibility study to be completed on the bridge, and many additional years to secure funding.
Nevertheless, the east and west link will allow communities in on the park’s east side like Norwood and Woodlawn access to parts of the park with great amenities.
“This will allow the Norwood community to walk to the Kingsbridge section of the park where the pool is, where the lake is – where there are more amenities,” she said, adding that people going hiking on 20 miles of trails in the park will also have more options.
This is the first part of a 2014 master plan for the park to be undertaken, and the group if hopeful that if this project gets rolling, other parts of that plan will follow.
Also taking part in the announcement were Congressman Eliot Engel, Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz, Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., and Councilman Andrew Cohen.
Representing city agencies were Feniosky Peña- Mora, Department of Design and Construction commissioner; Mitchell Silver, Parks Department commissioner; and Emily Lloyd, Department of Environmental Protection commissioner.