Randall’s Island, here we come

The lane will start at 132nd Street, run under the Amtrak line and over the Bronx Kill.

South Bronx, meet Randall’s Island.

After a seven year battle to link the borough to the recreational island off its southern tip, the city has finally cleared an eagerly awaited pathway.

City officials broke ground Dec. 18 on a quarter-mile pedestrian and bike lane that will link the borough to the island by early 2015.

The idea had been delayed as the city negotiated for construction rights with nearby property owners.

The city finally inked a deal for those rights in September. Now they’ve brought contractors on board and started building the project, which will allow Bronxites to easily bike, walk or jog over to access the 330 acres of fields at Randall’s Island Park.

A Spruced-up Route

The path will begin at 132nd Street and run southward under the existing Amtrak line. Architects will install lighting, fencing and landscaping alongside the lanes.

Travelers will then travel over a narrow strait called the Bronx Kill on an existing Con Edison utility bridge that the designers, Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects (MNLA) and HDR, Inc, will outfit with added decking and railings, as well as stormwater-collecting basins.

Locals were relieved when the city announced in September that it was asking for construction bids at the site. Bronxites who want to bike or walk to Randalls Island today are re-routed alongside the Triborough/RFK Bridge —a path they described as steep and smelly.

“It’s dark, the lights are out, there’s debris, there’s garbage, feces,” Henry Bubbins of South Bronx organization Friends of Brook Park told the Bronx Times back then. “ It’s very uninviting for a family pushing a shopping cart to go have a picnic up and down those hills.”

‘Easement’ Issues

The idea for the lane was proposed in 2006, but the plan was delayed as the city negotiated for “easements” —the legal right to build on someone else’s property—with the adjacent area’s property owners, which included Harlem River Yard Ventures and The New York Post. (The Bronx Times-Reporter is owned by News Corporation, which owns the Post).

Funding for the project came from both the federal and state budgets. The city has not disclosed the details of the agreement.

“This project has been a challenge, but when that first Bronx child crosses to play at Randall’s island, it will all be worth it,” said Congressman Jose Serrano, one of many elected officials who pushed for the project’s funding.

The lane is part of a larger city initiative called the South Bronx Greenway, announced by Mayor Bloomberg in 2006, which calls for nearly 1.5 miles of waterfront land and 12 new waterfront acres in Hunts Point and Port Morris.

Ben Kochman can be reached via e-mail at BKochman@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742–3394

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