All aboard! The Bronx may be going blue as potential landing sites are studied for a watery commute to Manhattan on the ‘blue highway.’
On Thursday, July 30, Councilman Oliver Koppell, joined by Councilman Jimmy Vacca, hosted a public forum at Riverdale Temple, 4545 Independence Avenue, in Riverdale, to discuss the Comprehensive Citywide Ferry Study.
The study, conducted by the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the Department of Transportation, with funding and support from City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, accounts for the third phase of a plan presented in May of 2008 by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other elected officials to increase ferry service.
The study will evaluate potential sites based on demand, infrastructure, and cost, keeping in mind the surrounding area and residents of each site as well as available modes of transportation, and the difference in time and cost for potential users.
The eight original sites considered included Riverdale, Fordham Landing, Roberto Clemente State Park, Yankee Stadium, Hunts Point, Soundview, Ferry Point, and Orchard Beach.
“I think from last night’s hearing we have a lot of options and possibilities and a lot of food for thought,” said Vacca. “I expect to see ferry service somewhere in this neighborhood. We will need some parking, and some public transportation. I think affordability is an issue because cost and access will determine whether or not this will be successful.”
During the meeting, Ken Kearns, district manager of Community Board 10, strongly suggested considering alternative sites rather than the two selected. These included Co-op City, City Island, SUNY Maritime College and Westchester Creek near Ferry Point Park.
“Bronx Community Board 10 requests that the respective offices present tonight, give serious consideration to our suggested sites,” noted Kearns. “Given that these ferries will be primarily serving commuters traveling between the Bronx and Manhattan, their presence could also have an economic benefit to the communities of the Bronx. Reverse commuters, tourists and native New Yorkers could easily avail themselves of the many restaurants and attractions that our borough offers.”
Outreach to community members and those affected will continue throughout the six-month study, keeping residents informed on potential sites and possibilities following the preliminary studies and evaluations.
Passenger capacity will depend on the ferry’s size, which will vary based on each site’s evaluation, but is expected to hold approximately 99 to 149 passengers. Cost and environmental impact as well as other considerations such as frequency and operation time will also vary based on specific sites and can not yet be determined.
“We deserve another alternative to what has become grid lock on the Cross Bronx Expressway and FDR Drive and I do think we have resources here,” said Vacca. “I have lobbied very hard for ferry service since I came to the City Council and I am determined my neighborhood be in the thick of things, I don’t want us to be overlooked.”