High Bridge crossers this summer have two more hours of wiggle room in their schedules as part of a city effort in place until September.
The High Bridge, a pedestrian walkway which runs through the two-borough Highbridge Park, connects the west Bronx’s Highbridge and Manhattan’s Washington Heights over the Harlem River. But since the bridge goes through city parkland, it isn’t open at all hours.
The bridge typically opens at 7 a.m. and closes at 8 p.m. May through September and at 7 p.m. November through April.
But after local politicians on both sides of the river requested that the bridge remain open later, the city agreed to expand its hours until 10 p.m. The expanded hours began June 17 and will continue until Sept. 30 as part of the city’s pilot.
The bridge can be accessed via park entrances at West 172nd Street and Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan and 170th Street and University Avenue in the Bronx.
The bridge is the city’s oldest in operation and re-opened after being restored in 2015 after a closure that lasted more than 40 years. It’s the only interborough bridge designed exclusively for pedestrians and bicyclists, according to NYC Parks.
And the benefits of the car-free passageway go beyond convenience for commuters, as it connects residents to the Highbridge pool, sports fields, bike trails, a skatepark, playgrounds and lawns.
Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson in June called the bridge “a major anchor of recreation and open space that connects our residents from the Bronx to Northern Manhattan.”
Gibson on April 19 wrote a joint letter to NYC Parks and Recreation Commissioner Susan Donoghue asking for the bridge hours to expand to 10 p.m. with Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, City Councilmember Althea Stevens, whose district includes Highbridge and several other Bronx neighborhoods, and Councilmember Carmen De La Rosa, whose Manhattan district includes Washington Heights, Inwood and Marble Hill.
“We do not place hourly limits on other transportation infrastructure, and should expand the hours of operation on the High Bridge year-round to increase access between the two boroughs to utilize this bridge not only as a premier public space but also as a crucial transportation link,” the pols said in their letter.
The elected officials also asked that the city agency ensures Parks Enforcement Patrol can work during the extra hours.
In an NYC Parks press release, Mayor Eric Adams emphasized the importance of green space and public parks during the pandemic and summer.
“Summer is here and what better way to enjoy our longer daylight hours than by using some of our City’s best assets — our parks,” Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi said in a statement. “Extending the High Bridge hours for New Yorkers will give access to greener, cooler space as the temperature rises in the warmer months.”
The Bronx Times reached out to NYC Parks with questions and is expecting a response on Tuesday. Check back for more information.
Reach Aliya Schneider at [email protected] or (718) 260-4597. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes