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MTA shows off ideas for bike, walking lanes on Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

A man looks out at the Verrazano Bridge

A man looks out at the Verrazano Bridge from a pedestrian promenade on a morning in Brooklyn on July 21, 2015, in New York City. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Spencer Platt

Taking a stroll or a bike ride and taking in the views from the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge could be a reality under a new MTA proposal.

The Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, an affiliate of the MTA, unveiled Tuesday an idea that would add bike and pedestrian lanes to the 51-year-old Staten Island-Brooklyn crossing as part of the agency's master plan to spruce up and fortify the bridge.

Bernard Kalus, of Parsons Brinckerhoff, the engineering firm contracted to develop the master plan, said the three proposals his team created are in the preliminary stages and the paths' construction would follow other work on the bridge, such as creating new entry ramps and replacing the lower level's deck with lighter materials.

"The primary challenge is the additional weight that will be added to the structure and the balance," he said.

The shared paths would cost at least $300 million and come in the second phase of the bridge's rehabilitation, which will be funded in a future MTA capital program.

One of the proposals would make two lanes, one pedestrians only and the other bike only, that would be placed on the outer edges of the lower deck, while another idea places the lanes on the outer edges of the upper deck.

In both cases, a bike entrance ramp would be constructed at John Paul Jones Park, a pedestrian entrance would go up close to outbound lane on the Brooklyn side, and similar ramps would feed into New York Avenue in Staten Island.

A third proposal would create a parallel bridge dedicated tobikes and pedestrians and include a section that rises for boats.

Kalus said he will be presenting the proposals to transportation groups, community leaders and elected officials to gauge their opinions and fine tune the master plan.

Paul Steely White, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives, was one of the groups who were briefed Tuesday. He said he thinks the city can create the shared-use paths for less than $300 million, but was glad that Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority is answering the needs of growing number of riders and walkers in Brooklyn and Staten Island.

"I think this will further stoke demand that's already strong," he said.

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