81st Street Pedestrian Bridge Updates

After receiving questions from residents regarding the status of the East 81st Street Pedestrian Bridge, our office made an inquiry to officials with the New York City Department of Design and Construction (NYCDDC) to obtain an update to share with the community. I hope you may find the following information to be useful:

The New York City Department of Design and Construction reports that there are three major factors for the completion of this project. Factors that have prolonged the initial completion projection of 18 months, but are essential to the successful completion and opening of the pedestrian bridge include the north abutment retrofit, design changes, and stainless-steel fabrication.

The North Abutment:

The initial survey of the North Abutment (the column supporting the S/E Corner of John Finely Walk, between the North and South bound FDR) indicated that a repair was needed and a contract includes that repair work. After the project started and the column was further evaluated, it was clear that it would not be prudent to install a bridge on the north abutment without a more significant retrofit. It took approximately 8 months to design a repair, have the design approved by various agencies invested in the project, coordinate with the other projects working on the FDR, and execute the repair.

Design Changes:

Per Community Board 8 and Public Design Commission's request, the scope of the project changed in three significant ways: to address lighting concerns, consider installing a set of viewing windows on the southern part of John Finely Walk, and reconsider the design of the access ramp on E. 81st Street. The initial response to address lighting concern was rather simple. The wattage of the light bulbs was reduced to 14W and five light fixtures were removed from the design. However, the Department of Transportation also directed the project to further change the light fixtures and reduce the temperature of the bulb from 4,000K to 3,000K, making the glow of the bulb softer and warmer. The bulb requested was not a standard bulb and had to be manufactured specifically for this project, which delayed the project another three months. Overall, the design changes pushed back the project by about five months.

Stainless-steel Fabrication Delay:

One of the benefits of this pedestrian bridge is that the fence is made of stainless steel, a high quality material that is incredibly durable and aesthetically appealing. However, a person cannot buy stainless steel fence pieces off the shelf. The fence is custom made for the pedestrian bridge and the fabricator has not been able to deliver the fence panels within the time initially projected. The fence installation is the last piece of the project and we anticipate that it will be completed in late September.

According to DDC, it is their practice to keep construction sites as clean as possible and free of food waste. This has especially been the case for this project given the proximity of the East River.

Additionally, the Contractor is scheduled to demobilize the E. 81st Street Cul-de-Sac later this month.

Contact Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright's community district office for more information at 212-288-4607.