14-mile Greenway shifts into high gear

June 26, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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By Raanan Geberer

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Imagine getting on your bicycle near the Williamsburg waterfront, then proceeding southwest past the Brooklyn Navy Yard and cycling through Brooklyn Bridge Park.

You pedal along Columbia Street and head to the Red Hook waterfront, where you bike past spectacular views of the Statue of Liberty and Governors Island.

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Then you take several turns through local streets, bike over a dedicated lane on the Hamilton Avenue bridge, and head south to Sunset Park and your final destination — the Bush Terminal Piers Park. Or maybe you want to keep going south to hook up with the Shore Parkway, and eventually Bay Ridge.

A scene along a stretch of the Brooklyn Greenway on Kent Avenue in Williamsburg. Photo courtesy of DOTThis will be possible when the 14-mile Brooklyn Greenway is completed. While five miles have already been finished, and more work is underway, it’s unclear when the entire project — which is expected to cost anywhere between approximately $55 million and $150 million— will be completed.

The Department of Transportation on Friday released a Greenway Implementation Plan, which finalizes the route and lays out the steps for completing the project.

Highlights include:

• A shared bike path along the southern part of Kent Avenue in Williamsburg to connect the already-existing bike path further north on Kent Avenue to Flushing Avenue.

• Restoring and resurfacing a cobblestone stretch along Plymouth and Water streets in Vinegar Hill to include a bike lane.

• Creating a bike path at the Red Hook Recreation Area.

• Creating a shared walking-biking connection to the Valentino Pier.

• Creating a shared walking-biking path on Hamilton Avenue to connect Red Hook to Sunset Park.

• Creating a multi-use path along the edges of the Brooklyn Army Terminal.

Milton Puryear, a founder of the non-profit Brooklyn Greenway Initiative, which originated the idea, says that segments that have already been completed include the Columbia Street bike path, the bike path through Brooklyn Bridge Park; and the bike paths on Kent Avenue, on Flushing Avenue, on Williamsburg Street West (the service road of the BQE), and several others.

The Columbia Street Bike Path, which has been incorporated into the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway. Photo courtesy of DOT“The bike path on Columbia Street was included in the reconstruction of the street four years ago,” says Puryear. “The Brooklyn Bridge Park segments are still being completed. Most of the rest have been accomplished with paint, signs and changing parking regulations, and didn’t require large capital expenditures.”

Puryear and two other residents of the Columbia Street District, Brian McCormick and Meg Fellerath, founded the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative in 2004. In addition to raising funds, the group held a series of community meetings to help determine the route of the path soon afterward. DOT signed on to the project in 2009.

Speaking about the portion within Brooklyn Bridge Park, Teresa Gonzalez, spokeswoman for the park, said, “The Greenway achieves our goals of bringing people to the park, accommodation various users and connecting us with the rest of the Brooklyn waterfront.”

She added that the temporary portions will be replaced by finished sections as the park is built out, and that “We see the Greenway as the artery that links both the northern and southern portions of the park.”

Craig Hammerman, district manager of Community Board 6, which includes the Columbia Street District and Red Hook, said, “The Greenway started here with the reconstruction of Columbia Street, before there was a Brooklyn Bridge Park.

“It helps support bicycling infrastructure and attracts new visitors to the area, where they can take advantage of the waterfront. It brings people there who otherwise might not have selected it as a destination.”

Shani Leibowitz, vice president of development and planning for the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which borders already-existing stretches of the Greenway on Kent Avenue, Williamsburg Place, Flushing Avenue and Navy Street, says, “We’re all for promoting alternate uses of transportation. More and more tenants are biking to work, and we have put bike racks and bike lanes on the inside of the Yard.”

A timeline and a total cost won’t be available until “the project moves past from conceptual planning to design and engineering,” said McCormick, one of the founders of the Greenway Initiative.

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