The long-awaited new City Island Bridge opened with fanfare.
The new span connecting City Island with the mainland was officially dedicated in a ceremony on Sunday, October 29 with a host of community leaders and city officials crossing the bridge on foot for the first time.
Despite significant rain, at least 200 people took part in the ceremony, according to attendees. It opened to vehicular traffic the same day.
The completion of the causeway-designed bridge was hailed as a victory for community activists on City Island who had disagreed with the Bloomberg administration on the original bridge design, but found a friendlier ear in the de Blasio administration.
Several officials at the City Island Civic Association and elected officials thanked Polly Trottenberg, NYC Department of Transportation commissioner, who worked with community leaders to come up with a suitable design after the earlier cable-stayed design with a tower won little community support.
Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Senator Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, Councilman James Vacca and Matt Cruz, Community Board 10 district manager, joined community members in celebrating.
“The opening of this new bridge is a historic day that marks the end of a long-fought battle by the City Island community, myself and my colleagues to preserve the distinct character and beauty of the area,” said Klein.
Diaz said that he believes the new bridge represents ongoing vitality that is part of City Island.
“This new bridge further opens up this great nautical village for tourists and local residents alike, giving them the opportunity to sit down and enjoy great seafood, breathe in that fresh sea air, admire the waterfront view,” said the borough president.
The new bridge has a wider horizontal clearance than the previous City Island Bridge, a structure that was completed in 1901, which replaced an earlier wooden draw bridge.
While three lanes of traffic still cross the bridge, the wider roadway area will allow future repair work to be carried out while traffic continues to flow.
The new crossing also is friendlier to recreational vessels crossing under it because it offers a higher vertical clearance.
The bridge includes a pedestrian walkway and a bicycle lane.
Barbara Dolensek, CICA vice president, who took part in a lawsuit against the Bloomberg administration concerning the bridge design and who personally worked with Trottenberg to come to agreement on a plan, said that a lot of community members wanted to attend the opening to be part of a historical moment.
Trottenberg personally reached out Dolesnek shortly after arriving at City Hall, calling her on the phone, according to Dolensek.
“It is getting good marks from everyone,” said Dolensek, adding of the DOT: “They really listened to us, and I think that is why we consider it a success.”
Access to and from the island had been routed over a temporary bridge since December 2015, when demolition began on the older structure.
Work still left to be done includes the reconstruction of a triangle at the foot of the bridge’s City Island side maintained by the American Legion, reconstruction of much of the Catherine Scott Promenade, and demolition of the temporary bridge.
Attendees at the opening were treated to coffee and donuts from contractor Tutor Perini and received ceremonial keychains marking the occasion, said CICA board members.