Brooklyn Heights

Brooklyn Bridge Park commits to pursuing $700,000 cost to repair ‘bouncy’ Squibb Bridge

April 9, 2015 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn Bridge Park officials confirmed this week that they will pursue the recovery of almost $700,000 to repair the popular Squibb Park Bridge, the bouncy pedestrian walkway which connects Squibb Park to the waterfront park. Photo by Will Hasty

Will issue public report;Bridge to reopen in late spring

Brooklyn Bridge Park (BBP) confirmed it will pursue the recovery of the roughly $700,000 it will cost to repair disabled Squibb Park Bridge, the bouncy pedestrian walkway that connects Squibb Park to the waterfront park.

Park officials also confirmed that they will issue a report to the public “at the appropriate time” about what caused the bridge to fail so soon after opening.

The $5 million footbridge, which zig-zags to the park from Brooklyn Heights, was shut down on Aug. 11 after the cables supporting it began to sag and the wooden walkway tilted south at the Squibb Park end.

“As we have previously stated, BBP is continuing to investigate what caused the bridge’s misalignment and we intend to pursue recovery of these costs from any responsible parties,” park spokesperson Belinda Cape told the Brooklyn Eagle on Wednesday.

“Repairs are proceeding as planned, and we look forward to welcoming everyone back to this popular and vital access point to Brooklyn Bridge Park,” she added.

The park aims to have the bridge back in operation by late spring.

Elected officials had squabbled with BBP over whether the board had officially agreed, at a Feb. 26 board meeting, to pursue the $700,000 repair cost and provide a public incident report. They claim the park only agreed to do these two things after pols prodded the board, and after an April 3 letter signed by officials.

But BBP officials said that they had decided to do these things on their own, and that they had sent a letter to the park’s Community Advisory Council (CAC) on April 1 stating this commitment.

In a transcript of the meeting provided by BBP, board member Steven Cohen is quoted as asking, “The question is, what are we doing to pursue the recovery of what we’re paying for the remediation?”

Board chair Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen answered, “We’re getting the bridge open but simultaneously making sure that we’re exercising any of our rights under the various insurance and potential claims.”

Levin asked board President Regina Myer, “At the end of the process, will there be a report … so that the public, that this board can know what was wrong in the first place?”

Myer responded, “Yes. I think right now we’ll consider that but right now we don’t want to jeopardize any possibility of litigation. So I think right now the goal is to get the work underway and get the engineers to sign and seal and assure this is a safe project.”

Officials said they found this response fuzzy enough to raise concerns, and shot off the April 3 letter. Myer responded on April 7, saying that Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen had committed to “pursue recovery of these costs from any responsible parties” and also confirmed that the board would issue a report to the public.

Park supporters say they just want the bridge open again, and are happy that “despite what is remembered at a meeting,” BBP is committed to pursuit of recovery and a report.

Squibb Park Bridge opened March 21, 2013 and became an immediate hit. Crowds of tourists, encouraged by the bridge’s slight bounce, frequently jumped on the bridge to make it bounce even higher.

“The Squibb Park Bridge design makes use of trail bridge technology,” a sign at the bridge’s entrance explains. “It is built with cable and wood, much like hundreds of trail bridges in our state and national parks. Since it is designed to be lightweight and flexible, the bridge will bounce as you walk over it.”

Story updated Friday at 4:45 p.m. to add quotes from the Feb. 26 BBP  board of trustees meeting.

 

 

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