City wants Bronxites to help shape new 7-mile Harlem River Greenway, Adams announces

Mayor Eric Adams on High Bridge between Bronx and Washington Heights
Mayor Eric Adams wants to hear from Bronx residents on how to shape a new seven-mile greenway along the Harlem River. Wednesday, March 22, 2023.
Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

The city is set to kick off a public engagement process next month for the Bronx Harlem River Greenway project, a new seven-mile bike and pedestrian path slated to be built along the eastern side of the Harlem River, Mayor Eric Adams announced Wednesday.

Exact details have yet to be hashed out for the project that will stretch from Van Cortlandt Park in the northwest corner of the Bronx down much of the Harlem River’s eastern bank to Randall’s Island to the borough’s south, according to the mayor. When completed, however, it’ll offer continuous north-south off-street “multi use paths” and on-street “bike facilities,” all running alongside the Major Deegan Expressway.

During a news conference on the High Bridge, which links the Bronx’s Highbridge neighborhood with Manhattan’s Washington Heights, Adams said the project will connect Bronxites to the waterfront they’ve long been separated from by the Major Deegan — while referencing Robert Moses, the late New York power broker behind much of the city’s current infrastructure, both for better and worse.

“We’re expanding the Harlem River Greenway to the Bronx,” Adams said. “All of the disconnections that we’re [talking about are] really a symbol of the past, a symbol of the Robert Moses era. Bridges that were built and highways that were built that ripped apart communities such as the Cross Bronx Expressway, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, bridges like the ones we’re standing on. In so many ways, not only did we disconnect communities, but we disconnected opportunities.”

“We know what the Major Deegan and other highways have done to our communities,” he added. “And now, we’re going to fix the problems that we witnessed in previous years.”

Mayor Adams speaking to reporters about the new Harlem River Greenway project in the Bronx.Credit John McCarten NYC Council Media Unit

Construction of the greenway will be broken into three parts: Van Cortlandt Park to the University Heights Bridge, the University Heights Bridge to the Macombs Dam Bridge and the Macombs Dam Bridge to the Randall’s Island Connector. The plan will include projects like putting in street markings and signs, as well as some concrete work, in the short term; and more complicated capital improvements, in the long term — according to City Hall.

Ydanis Rodriguez — the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) commissioner, who was also in attendance — said the greenway will help link Bronx residents to destinations throughout both the Boogie Down and Upper Manhattan.

“This route will connect Bronxites to job centers like Bronx Hub, Fordham Plaza and the 125th Street corridor in Manhattan,” Rodriguez said. “But this plan will also return the waterfront to residents of the Bronx.”

The greenway will also connect Bronxites to higher education institutions like Lehman and Manhattan Colleges, Rodriguez said, and commercial destinations such as Yankee Stadium and the Bronx Children’s Museum.

The city is allocating $1 million for the project’s planning phase, according to a mayoral spokesperson. Construction costs, they said, will depend on the contours of the plan that’s crafted in the coming months.

The community engagement process for the greenway’s construction will begin on April 18 with two rounds of online workshops — one for each of the project’s three sections — hosted by DOT in partnership with 

Bronx and Harlem River Urban Waters Federal Partnership and the New York-New Jersey Harbor and Estuary Program. During the workshops, DOT will inform residents on the current conditions of the project area and seek their suggestions on what shape the bike and pedestrian paths should ultimately take.

A new greenway the city is planning for the Bronx side of the Harlem River will run from Van Cortlandt Park to Randall’s Island.Image courtesy of Mayor Eric Adams’ Office

The second round of engagement sessions will take place this fall and DOT will hold pop-up events to engage the community during the spring and summer. The agency expects to publish a plan for the project’s implementation next year.

“We want to hear from you on how you want to use your waterfront,” Rodriguez said. “No one will come from the outside imposing that vision, that vision will be the result of community engagement that Mayor Adams is so committed to help to happen.”

Shawn Garcia, the Bronx and uptown organizer for the safe streets advocacy group, Transportation Alternatives, applauded the greenway project, saying it promises to “reconnect” Bronx communities separated by the Major Deegan.

“The seven mile Bronx greenway will reconnect communities with the Harlem River that highways divided last century,” Garcia said. “Today’s announcement is a step towards reclaiming our waterfronts, expanding access to nature for all New Yorkers, and creating safe corridors for pedestrians and bikes. We hope to see more progress like this across our city.”

Those wishing to participate in the community engagement process can do so by visiting nycdotprojects.info.