All photos courtesy of PANYNJ
The pedestrian and bike path on the north side of the George Washington Bridge opened on Tuesday following a renovation and accessibility upgrades. The project, led by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, included widening approach paths, bigger entry plazas, and removing stairs that prevented access to cyclists and users with mobility challenges. The upgraded north walk also features two new viewing platforms, one on the New York side and one on the New Jersey side.
Improvements to the bridge fall under a $2 billion “Restoring the George” program which includes nearly a dozen structural repair projects on the 96-year-old bridge. As part of the project, the bridge’s original steel suspender ropes will be replaced for the first time in its history.
As part of the work, the Port Authority built a new plaza at the entry of the bridge’s northern path on West 180th Street and Cabrini Boulevard in Washington Heights that leads onto the new curving onramp. The new plaza and onramp have replaced the 171 steps travelers had to climb to get onto the bridge.
The revamped entrances also have new lighting, signs, surveillance cameras, and higher fencing. A new set of viewing platforms on either end of the bridge allows for impressive views of the Hudson River and the Palisades.
While the new onramps are ADA-compliant and give cyclists and pedestrians more space to get onto the bridge, the actual width of the shared lane is the same as it was before the construction project, according to Streetsblog.
“The opening of the vastly improved north walk marks an important milestone in the Restoring the George program,” Port Authority Chair Kevin O’Toole said. “While we invest in and strengthen the bridge for the next century of cars and trucks, we are also enhancing the experience for the pedestrians and cyclists and drawing our communities closer together.”
Starting this Wednesday, the southern path of the bridge will close for similar renovations, projected to take roughly four years to complete. Once those repairs are finished, pedestrian traffic will move to the south side and cyclists will stay on the north side, according to Ken Sagrestano, the Port Authority’s general manager for the George Washington Bridge.
As Streetsblog reported, the revamp project doesn’t address the narrow promenade on the bridge’s south path which is said by locals to cause a large number of crashes involving walkers, runners, and cyclists. Despite calls from advocates, community members, and local politicians, widening the bridge’s bike paths is not part of the Port Authority’s plans.
“We didn’t change the width because it would’ve been hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars,” Sagrestano told the website. “It was not something that the Port Authority was actively looking at as an alternative.”
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Tags : accessibility, bicycling, bridges, Cycling, george washington bridge, port authority