Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday that the city would develop the gap in the Manhattan waterfront greenway that runs between 41st and 61st Streets along the East River. The city has pledged to spend $100 million on closing the largest unfinished space in the 32-mile loop, including a new esplanade, with an additional $5 million to be spent on filling smaller gaps in East Harlem and Inwood. “The Hudson River Greenway has vastly improved quality of life on the West Side, and we want families in every corner in the borough to have that same access to bike, walk and play along the water,” said the mayor in a statement. “This is the first of many big investments we’ll make as we bring the full Greenway to reality.”
Construction on the scruffy undeveloped gap along the highway from 53rd to 61st Street–an annoyance to cyclists, runners and walkers who traverse the scenic path that runs along the East River–will begin in 2019 and is expected to continue for three years. The new path will rest on pilings about 15 feet off the shoreline on a boardwalk, similar to the West Side’s waterfront path.
The aforementioned esplanade will eventually connect the bike paths that ring the city’s perimeter, making it easier for cyclists to circle Manhattan without veering off into city streets along the East Side. “A longer greenway will also help us meet the surging demand in daily cycling,” said Polly Trottenberg, the city’s transportation commissioner.
The last big expansion of this kind happened in 2010 in the form of an 11-mile pathway that opened between 91st and 81st Streets along the Hudson River on the city’s West Side, which, according to the Transportation Department, is now used by over 7,000 cyclists every day.