LongPoint Bridge connecting Greenpoint to Long Island City gains momentum
“It’s a floating bridge, almost like a barge that floats and pivots around a pin,” the designer said.
A grassroots initiative to build LongPoint Bridge, a timber span connecting Greenpoint to Long Island City, is one step closer to becoming a reality with the establishment of a nonprofit and fresh support from local leaders.
The organization behind the overpass became a registered nonprofit, Friends of Timber Bridge, on Jan. 24, galvanizing fundraising efforts and received the backing of two Brooklyn politicians: Borough President Eric Adams and Assemblymember Joe Lentol.
The pedestrian and bicycle overpass was announced last summer to bridge Newtown Creek at Manhattan Avenue in Brooklyn and Vernon Boulevard in Queens. It’s the brainchild of Jun Aizaki and his Williamsburg-based architecture and design firm CRÈME.
The Brooklyn borough president threw his support behind the project in a letter to the Department of Transportation in October, the Brooklyn Eagle has learned.
“One of my greatest priorities as Brooklyn’s borough president is to ensure that our residents have unimpeded access to public spaces and recreational oases,” Adams wrote to the city’s Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “The floating timber bridge would provide bicycle and pedestrian connections between the two neighborhoods, while activating public space on both of their waterfronts,” he added.
“It would also allow Brooklyn and Queens residents, as well as tourists, an opportunity to enjoy the Newtown Creek, a vital waterway that stretches through both boroughs. I hope you will consider supporting their request and look forward to someday seeing [the timber bridge] gracing the New York City skyline.”
The 275-foot-long bridge would be constructed out of sustainably sourced, pressure-treated pine glulam, a glued laminated timber. It would serve as a connector between a transit-starved section of Greenpoint — the nearest G train station is more than 10 blocks away from the waterfront — and the No. 7 train in Long Island City.
“It’s a floating bridge, almost like a barge that floats and pivots around a pin,” Aizaki, a Japanese native, 20-plus-year North Brooklyn resident and Pratt Institute alumnus, told the Eagle. “The inspiration comes from living in the area and wondering why there aren’t better ways of getting around.”
“In a way, it coincided with the whole growth of the neighborhoods,” he added. “There’s no way to cross but to go back and take the Pulaski Bridge. I’ve always envisioned that there should be a better connection between these two areas.”
The overpass would provide bikers and pedestrians with a shorter and safer commute than the Pulaski Bridge, which prioritizes cars and becomes congested during commuting hours, Aizaki said. It could also ease local congestion that could be caused if Amazon comes to Long Island City.
The 16-foot-wide floating structure would span the creek, which was designated a federal Superfund site in 2010, and extend over the LIRR rail yard in Queens. The bridge is designed to feature a pivoting mechanism that allows it to open for larger vessels. Designers hope that the bridge will open and close in roughly three minutes. Smaller crafts, such as kayaks and sailboats, could pass under at any time.
The platform would rise and fall with the tide, protecting the bridge from flooding, and the designs for landing areas on either side of the bridge feature community green spaces.
For Willis Elkins, program manager of Newtown Creek Alliance, the biggest concern is the bridge’s potential impediment of maritime traffic, especially as cleanup of the waterway progresses.
“Improving access to Newtown Creek is a primary goal of our organization, and we appreciate the efforts of the CRÈME design team,” Elkins told the Eagle. “Our organization also supports maritime use of Newtown Creek and the crucial advantages that waterborne freight offer the city in reducing road congestion and air pollution.”
“Any proposed new crossing on the creek needs to easily accommodate the dozens of tugs, barges and research vessels that pass through the mouth of Newtown Creek each day,” he added.
Designers estimate that the entire project will cost more than $32 million and be built in roughly two years. CRÈME attempted to raise an initial $50,000 by June to fund environmental impact and feasibility studies, but the Kickstarter campaign only collected $30,266 from 171 backers.
The firm will look to use city funds and private donors, including potentially Amazon, to build the bridge.
“That’s one of many ideas,” Aizaki said of approaching the large tech company. “Anybody who would benefit from bettering the community, we would like to approach. It’s not just one entity.”
Amazon did not respond to a request for comment on whether the corporation supports the bridge and would be open to funding it.
Aizaki gave a presentation to Community Board 1, which represents the area in question, and said his firm would ramp up its campaign in the spring.
From an East River gondola to a pontoon bridge, several ambitious ideas have been floated over the years to improve inter-borough transportation, though most stalled before ever getting off the ground.
Other connections over the 3.5-mile toxic waterway include the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge and the Kosciuszko Bridge, which will have a pedestrian and bike path on its new Brooklyn-bound span by early 2020.
In the early 20th century, a drawbridge connected Greenpoint and Long Island City in the exact location where the timber overpass is being proposed. The Vernon Avenue Bridge opened in 1905 and carried cars, pedestrians and a trolley over the creek to what is now Vernon Boulevard.
The bridge was demolished in 1954 to make room for the Pulaski Bridge further down the creek.
Follow reporter Scott Enman on Twitter.
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