City Island wins bridge fight; will get causeway instead

Proposed design of causeway to City Island that would replace current bridge – and replacement one opposed by islanders. Photo courtesty of city Department of Transportation

City Islanders have finally won their bitter fight with the city to stop an unwanted bridge.

After brawling with the Bloomberg administration over one with a soaring tower, new city Department of Transportion Commissioner Polly Trottenbergt announced the city will now build a simple causeway to replace the current bridge onto the island.

Surrounded by elected officials and island leaders, Trottenberg announced the breakthrough on Sunday, May 4 at the foot of the current bridge.

It was a ray of sunshine for islanders who had fought Mayor Bloomberg – and especially former DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, whom angry islanders charged repeatedly ignored their pleas for a bridge more in keepingh with the quaint little island’s low-rise character.

The previous design called for a modern looking “cable-stayed” bridge with a tower in the shape of a sail soaring 160-feet in the air.

The DOT will be presenting the new design by the project’s contractor, Tutor Perini, to City Planning, and if all goes well, it should be approved by the end of May.

Based on artist renderings, much of the causeway’s color and street furniture may mirror the same shade of green as the 113-year-old City Island Bridge .

Problem Solved
Trottenberg was joined at Sunday’s announcement by city Comptroller Scott Stringer, Senator Jeff Klein, Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Councilman Jimmy Vacca, Community Board 10 district manager Kenneth Kearns, and a representative from Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, as well as leadership from the City Island Chamber of Commerce and the City Island Civic Association, and other stakeholders.

“When Mayor de Blasio offered me the job of transportation commissioner, he asked me to listen to and respect communities and be a problem-solver,” said Trottenberg. “And with a new, simpler causeway design for the 113-year-old City Island Bridge, that is exactly what we’ve accomplished today.”

She said the city is expected to save more than $5 million with the new design .

City Island Civic Association second vice-president Barbara Dolensek, a petitioner in a lawsuit filed with the help of Klein, praised the development.

“In a very short time, they have come up with a bridge design that is compatible with City Island’s low-rise historic character and with the beauty of Pelham Bay Park,” said Dolensek, “and for that we are immensely grateful.”

All agree

“The City Island Bridge is more than a means of transportation,” said Comptroller Stringer, “it is literally a lifeline for the residents of this Bronx neighborhood and its visitors.”

Gerard (Skip) Giacco, president of the CICC and owner of an island ice cream shop, gave away vanilla ice cream at the announcement, a reminder that Trottenberg had previously told island leaders the de Blasio administration would work with them to give them want they wanted – a “plain-vanilla causeway.”

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 742–3393. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.
New city Department of Transporation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, joined by electeds and City Islanders on Sunday, May 4, announces new plans to build causeway rather than unwanted bridge to replace current one in background.
Photo by Patrick Rocchio

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