Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson, and New York City Council Members Carmen de la Rosa and Althea Stevens are seeking upgrades for the Washington Bridge, amNewYork Metro has exclusively learned.
The politicians are calling for a host of improvements to be made to the 133-year-old bridge in order to bring it up-to-date and make it safer for users. The request comes through a joint letter to the Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez obtained by amNewYork Metro in which the electeds are pursuing the creation of a two-way protected bike lane, widening the pedestrian path, improving lighting, installing safety cameras, and more.
“The city has done a terrific job of making wise investments in improving mobility on both sides of the Harlem River, but left the bridge with just two very narrow, poorly lit lanes for foot and bike traffic. People don’t feel safe, so they are reluctant to cross the bridge, and we lose an inter-borough mobility network that would allow people to travel far greater distances,” Manhattan Borough President Levine said.
This comes after several enhancements have already been made on the bridge, including the installation of the 181st Street busway in Manhattan, bus lanes and protected bike lanes on University Ave in the Bronx, as well as center-running bus lanes and protected bike lanes on Edward L Grant Highway in the Bronx. Both Borough Presidents applauded these strides adding that with these projects more than 68,000 daily pre-COVID bus riders were able to utilize these routes. However, they are pushing to bridge the gap between these latest additions with more pedestrian-safe options.
“We are calling on DOT to go the last mile on its recent investments in Northern Manhattan and the Bronx by coming up with a plan to improve the overall mobility offered by the Washington Bridge. We have seen the tremendous success of the mobility improvements made on the Brooklyn Bridge; we want the Washington Bridge to be the next success story,” Levine added.
The letter also touches on the controversial congestion pricing by adding that New Yorkers would more likely travel by bus or bike if it was safer and more convenient. Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson calls these investments a top priority.
“The Washington Bridge is a major throughway for both the Bronx and Manhattan and it is important we invest the necessary resources to ensure it is safe for everyone to safely commute to and from their destination. Reducing traffic fatalities and making our bridges safe for drivers, pedestrians, and riders should be our top priority and I look forward to working with my colleagues, advocates, and the administration to make this happen,” Gibson said.
DOT did not immediately respond for comment.