Brooklyn Heights

Heights’ quirky, defective Squibb Bridge has been demolished

October 22, 2019 Mary Frost
All that’s left of quirky, bouncy Squibb Bridge, which once connected Brooklyn Heights to Brooklyn Bridge Park. The bridge was demolished over this past weekend. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
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Brooklyn’s “bouncy” Squibb Bridge was demolished over this past weekend, finally putting an end to a crowd-pleasing but ultimately dysfunctional structure.

Visitors to Brooklyn Bridge Park on Monday were surprised to find almost nothing left of the pedestrian bridge — save for some support pillars jutting into the air and a small section of black locust timber at ground level.

The zigzagging walkway will be rebuilt from scratch — this time without its trademark bounce — after a rocky five-plus years, during which it has been closed more than open.

Brooklyn Bridge Park says it will replace the $4.1 million walkway with a traditional steel and aluminum pedestrian bridge, utilizing the existing support structures. The new Squibb Bridge is expected to open to the public in the summer of 2020.

Eric Landau, the president of Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, told Community Board 2 members in April that totally rebuilding the bridge made more sense than trying to patch it up again. A total rebuild will take 18 months and cost $6.5 million, Landau said — more expensive initially than the $4 million it would cost to do a patch-up, but requiring less expensive maintenance down the line.

The engineering firm Arup has been contracted to do the work. Arup is the same firm hired by the City Council to provide “independent, outside expertise” on the Department of Transportation’s BQE reconstruction plan.

The Arup engineering firm has been hired to totally rebuild Squibb Bridge.. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
The Arup engineering firm has been hired to totally rebuild Squibb Bridge.. Eagle photo by Mary Frost

The bridge, which connects the bluff of Brooklyn Heights to Brooklyn Bridge Park down on the waterfront, opened in 2013 and was shut down 15 months later, in August 2014.

The bridge was originally built by the HNTB company, the firm run by MacArthur “Genius Award”-winner Ted Zoli. Its unusual underslung suspension design caused it to bounce when people walked on it, a feature which proved popular with many, including children who jumped up and down to make it bounce higher.

It was closed after the cables supporting it began to sag and the wooden walkway tilted south at the Squibb Park end. Its reopening suffered numerous delays while increasingly impatient local officials pushed the park to provide an explanation.

In January 2016, the park filed a lawsuit against HNTB, claiming faulty design. The park and HNTB settled the case in February 2018.

Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation paid Arup $3.4 million to retrofit the bridge, and it reopened in April 2017, 50 percent less bouncy.

The bridge was closed again in July 2018, when structural testing revealed that many pieces of its black locust timber had mysteriously decayed. Black locust is known to be highly durable and rot resistant.

The park said in September 2018 that testing had discovered that the wood had “higher than expected moisture levels,” which compromised its condition and quality.

Squibb Park, where Brooklyn Bridge Park plans to build a community swimming pool, will be closed during the construction of the new bridge.

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  1. scalefactor

    Won’t a new bridge in that location be in the way of the proposed BQE reconstruction? The bridge should be better integrated into the planning for the BQE. Also, Squibb Park will be severely impacted by the reconstruction – that’s a poor place to invest money into building a pool.

  2. And who is footing the bill for the messed up bridge….thats right taxpayers.

    Not the designers/engineers who built the “bouncy bridge” in the first place.

    No wonder our property taxes are ridiculously high…… of fancy instead of people being held responsible for shoddy work in the first place.