Closing the Loop: Mayor de Blasio Jump-Starts Plan to Complete Manhattan Waterfront Greenway

April 25, 2017

$100 million capital in Mayor’s Executive Budget will help close ‘gap’ near UN with new esplanade, bring Greenway south from East 61st to 53rd Street – a longstanding goal of community and local elected officials

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced a major investment in closing the largest gap in the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway, and an administration-wide push underway to complete the vision of a contiguous 32-mile waterfront pedestrian promenade and bicycling path around the whole of Manhattan. The Mayor’s announcement came as a response to a longstanding effort by local elected officials and community advocates to fund and build a continuous esplanade to close the gap.

In his budget to be announced Wednesday, the Mayor will dedicate $100 million in City capital to significantly narrow the Greenway’s largest gap. The New York City Economic Development Corporation will construct a new esplanade in the East River between East 61st Street and East 53rd Street. Design will begin this year and construction will commence in 2019, with completion expected in 2022. The project has received initial approval from the US Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers, and State Department of Environmental Conservation. The structure will be based on plans previously developed in consultation with a board composed of Mayoral representatives and local officials.

“We’re jumpstarting the completion of a Greenway linking the entire Manhattan waterfront. 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. This is the first of many big investments we’ll make as we bring the full Greenway to reality,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

For more renderings of the project, click here:

Local elected officials and civic organizations, including Borough President Gale Brewer, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, State Senator Liz Krueger, Assembly Members Dan Quart and Brian Kavanagh, Council Members Ben Kallos and Dan Garodnick, have pushed for a complete East River Greenway for decades, resulting in continuous progress at critical links along the route.

“Because of the City's growing network of Greenways, cyclists and pedestrians have together come to appreciate New York City's breathtaking waterfront,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “We thank the Mayor for this incredible $100 million investment that will grow this network even further. Coupled with 1,100-mile bicycle network and DOT’s record creation of new bike lanes, a longer Greenway will also help us meet the surging demand in daily cycling, grown 80% in New York City over just the last five years. We look forward to working with EDC to give East Siders access to their waterfront, and to a jump-started process that will allow us to close other remaining gaps in the Greenway loop.”

“Improving access to our city’s waterfront is a critical part of our work to strengthen neighborhoods and improve New Yorkers’ quality of life,” said NYCEDC President James Patchett. “By creating great public spaces for people to walk, jog or ride, we're helping make this a more accessible and equitable city. We’re grateful to Mayor de Blasio for his commitment to expanding our Greenways, and we look forward to working with DOT to deliver this exciting project.”

“As an avid New York City runner, I see the benefit that initiatives like the Mayor’s commitment to closing the loop has on communities – connecting them to some of the most scenic greenway in the world,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “Parks is doing its part as we look forward to commencing a conceptual design this summer that will link the East Side Greenway between 125th and 132nd streets, furthering our partnership with EDC and DOT to provide New Yorkers a seamless Greenway experience.”

“The waterfront Greenway along the East River is a gem, and is one of the most breathtaking spots in our city. I am thrilled that the Mayor has committed to narrowing the largest gap in the green necklace along the waterfront by creating a new stretch of open and usable space. All New Yorkers will greatly benefit from the expanded esplanade, and I know it will be enjoyed by generations to come,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney.

“Manhattan’s waterfront is an incredible asset that makes our city a better place to live and work,” said Assembly Member Dan Quart. “Improving our already impressive cyclist and pedestrian networks is a smart investment that will help us tap into the potential of a united Greenway. I thank the Mayor for his commitment to our waterfront and look forward to working with city officials to give East Siders a safe, accessible place to get outdoors and active.”

“The dream of an East River Greenway is getting closer with a vital connection to fill the gap between 53rd and 61st streets. I will finally be able to run the full length of my district from Midtown East to East Harlem,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, Co-Chair of the East River Esplanade Taskforce. “Thank you to Mayor de Blasio for his partnership and investment in the East River Esplanade.”

“Those of us who have been working to see this project built for many years are particularly gratified that Mayor de Blasio is providing the leadership and identifying the funding to close the longstanding gap in our community’s access to the East River waterfront,” said Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, who sponsored legislation to facilitate construction of the Greenway and serves on a board led by City Hall that has been working on plans to complete the project. “Once complete, the Greenway will represent a wonderful recreational facility, and a safer, greener way for bicyclists and pedestrians to get around, allowing them to avoid dangerous, traffic-clogged segments of 1st and 2nd Avenues. I look forward to working with the Mayor and my colleagues in federal, state, and city government to ensure that it is fully funded and completed as soon as possible.”

“This allocation provides a much needed boost to our carefully planned and negotiated vision of a complete greenway around Manhattan,” said Council Member Dan Garodnick. “While we still have some considerable gaps, our plans just got a whole lot closer to reality. Thanks to the Mayor and his team for recognizing the importance of open public space, particularly on the waterfront, and for providing this necessary funding.”

“Developing more bike infrastructure is always a positive step toward a healthier city,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, the Transportation Committee Chair. “I’m glad to see the city making important investments to ease commutes for New Yorkers living on the East Side. I’m also glad to see my community in the plans for new bike lanes on Dyckman Street, a key east-west corridor connecting the Greenways Uptown. With more infrastructure for cyclists, we can ease the strains on our roads as more commuters leave their cars at home.”

The Mayor’s Executive Budget also dedicated $5 million for a multi-agency study to be completed this year of the remaining gaps in the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway. The study will identify solutions necessary to upgrade existing pinch points and complete gaps, as the basis for additional funding in the next update of the City’s capital plan.

Since its inception in 1993 under Mayor David Dinkins, each administration has contributed to Manhattan Waterfront Greenway. The last major section of the Greenway to open was a 10-block pile-supported Riverwalk built in Riverside Park on the West Side between West 81st and West 91st streets, completing a contiguous 11-mile Hudson River Greenway from the Battery to the George Washington Bridge. With more than 7,000 daily cyclists, it is the busiest bike path in the United States.

Once complete, the addition announced today will remove one of the last remaining interruptions to the 32-mile Greenway around Manhattan Island. 

Further projects in development:

  • Inwood: This summer, DOT plans to begin the process of creating new bike lanes along Dyckman Street, the northern connection for cyclists traveling between the Harlem and Hudson River Greenways.  
  • Inwood: In addition to converting Dyckman Street between Nagle Avenue and 10th Avenue to protected lanes, NYC DOT is already working with Manhattan Community Board 12 to develop a plan for new bike lanes on Dyckman, between Broadway and Nagle Avenue. 
  • East Harlem: The Parks Department is kicking off a conceptual design for the East Harlem greenway gap from East 125th to 132nd Streets as part of East Harlem Neighborhood Plan.  
  • Lower Manhattan: NYCEDC is advancing demolition of dilapidated structures, removal of toxic soil and the design and construction of new waterfront open space at Pier 42 on Manhattan's Lower East Side with funds secured from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.
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