City launches design competition to fix Brooklyn Bridge congestion problem

February 11, 2020

Image by Ali Vidler from Pixabay

The city is looking for ideas to fix the jam-packed promenade of the Brooklyn Bridge. City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and the Van Alen Institute on Tuesday launched a design competition seeking creative improvements to the 137-year-old structure’s narrow walkway, where thousands of pedestrians and cyclists fight for space each day. The overcrowded conditions have made the number of cyclists crossing the bridge drop to about 3,000 daily riders, compared to 3,600 two years prior, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The “Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge” contest is looking for proposals that “balance the needs of the bridge’s many users, honor the bridge’s place among New York’s treasured landmarks, and inspire civic design in our city for generations to come,” according to the design brief. The competition is free and open to anyone.

“We need to make sure they are not competing for space because we want the number of people using the bridge to continue growing,” Johnson said in a press release. “Everyone who uses the bridge should have a pleasant experience, not a stressful one. The long-term vitality of the Brooklyn Bridge is essential to our goal of being an environmentally sensitive, pedestrian-friendly city.”

In a 2017 report, the Department of Transportation found that foot traffic on the bridge’s promenade increased on weekends by 275 percent between 2008 and 2015. During that same time, bike traffic grew 104 percent. In response, the agency detailed ways to reduce the growing congestion, including expanding the width of the promenade and limiting the number of vendors on the bridge.

Consultant firm AECOM recommended lifting the promenade in order to widen it, which would then attract more people and add more weight to the bridge. Because of this, the firm recommended an inspection of the cables before any expansion could begin. The inspection was scheduled to start last year, but a transportation department spokesperson told the WSJ it will actually begin this year.

“Today, we must create resilient, forward-looking cities that decrease our reliance on fossil fuels while strengthening our social connections,” Deborah Marton, executive director of Van Alen, said in a press release. “These profound issues come to the fore on the Brooklyn Bridge, which must become a better place for pedestrians and cyclists.”

There will be two finalist categories; three finalists 22 years of age and older will receive $13,000 and three finalists under 21 will receive $3,000. One winner will ultimately be selected from each category. Finalists will work with Van Alen and the City Council to develop ideas. The six winning designs will be presented in a public event this summer and online, where the public will help choose a winner.

Proposals are due by Sunday, April 5. Get more details on the design competition here.


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