City Islanders work with city DOT to finalize design elements of new bridge

The Department of Transportation made a presentation to the City Island Civic Association on Tuesday, August 26. The presentation was about a “gateway” concept for the new City Island Bridge. The design details of the new causeway-style bridge design are still being finailized.
Community News Group / Patrick Rocchio

After getting the causeway bridge design the community wanted, City Islanders are now also getting to have their say on design details.

The city Department of Transportation has established a working group with key City Islanders to review design concepts for the bridge and for a new “gateway” to City Island.

The gateway would be an approach to the new bridge on the Pelham Bay Park side that would introduce people to the seaside community.

DOT presented three different gateway design concepts at a Tuesday, August 26 City Island Civic Association meeting, including “adaptive reuse” of existing parts of the current bridge, totally new structures, or some kind of hybrid.

But after a City Island/DOT Working Group of community leaders met on Tuesday, September 2, the community requested that DOT recommend to the city Design Commission a simpler approach, explained Barbara Dolensek, a CICA vice-president.

The working group mainly addressed three different issues, including what to do on the Pelham Bay Park side of the bridge, and what kind of fencing and lighting to use, she said.

“The one thing on which we were all unanimous on was no gateway, no fancy reworking of objects, no fancy sign, nothing like that,” said Dolensek about the introduction to the island.

Instead, she said, the group is requesting to the Design Commission and DOT that they take an existing City Island Garden Club welcome sign from the island side of the bridge and move it to the park side, with the DOT paying for plantings around the sign that the club will maintain.

“We all like the garden club sign,” she said. “It is low key, its ‘welcome to City Island.’

There are signs like this all over New England, and in Eastchester, N.Y. and parts of Westchester, that indicate that you are coming to a small, historic town. And this is exactly what City Island is.”

The group does not want a reworking as the remnants of the current City Island Bridge, built at the turn of the 20th century, because it does not contain design elements different from other bridges built around the same time, she said.

The first bridge rendering’s fencing looked oppressive and like those used at prisons, she said. This idea was advanced at the August 26 meeting, and later, according to Dolensek, followed up on during the September 2 meeting.

“We are hoping for a straight up and down fence, and for what is basically invisible chain-link,” she said. “The idea of that is that you want to be able to see the water and the boats, and not the chain-link. Chain-link is made very transparent these days.”

The lights on the rendering look similar to the lights on City Island Avenue, and the group had a discussion if that would be appropriate on a modern bridge, she said.

The DOT, under the de Blasio administration, has recently bent over backwards to include the suggestions of the City Islanders, and are being as cooperative as possible, she added.

Some decisions from the Design Commission are expected shortly.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 742–3393. E-mail him at procc‌hio@c‌ngloc‌al.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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