What if our Russian Doll timeline is just a loop of Squibb Bridge being built and rebuilt over and over again? The pedestrian bridge was first erected back in 2013, and connected Columbia Heights to Brooklyn Bridge Park via a scenic—albeit bouncy—walkway. Of course, there was already a no-cost way to walk from Columbia Heights to Brooklyn Bridge Park, and it took the same amount of time—we tested it.
However, given the rapid development in the park (which now hosts a number of amenities on a series of piers, as well as a luxury hotel and condominium), maybe an alternate route made sense. Or it would have, if the actual design of the bridge made any sense. It didn't, and so it has been closed for longer than it's been open, due to safety concerns. It's story isn't over yet, though! Now an entirely new bridge will be constructed in place of the original.
Eric Landau, Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation's president, told Gothamist this morning, "We've switched engineers and have been working with them on the retrofit... Arup are designing the new bridge, which you can see from the renderings pretty much looks like the previous bridge." The basic design "and geometry" will be the same, Landau says, but the material will be different this time around.
The problem with the original bridge was the wood that was used—by the time of the last bridge closure, in 2018, "multiple pieces of wood, including the structural wood, either had high levels of moisture or had already significantly deteriorated or decayed," Landau told us. This time, the bridge—which has a span that hangs over Furman Street—will be constructed of steel.
"We expect the current bridge will be removed this fall, and the new bridge will be open by the summer of 2020," Landau noted. Which leads us to... the BQE rehabilitation project. The bridge is in the zone where the BQE is currently crumbling. Currently, there is no plan in place showing us what the BQE reconstruction will look like, but there are a number of proposals, all wildly different. Earlier this month, Mayor de Blasio hit reset on the BQE project, as he works with a team of experts, the DOT, and the community on a new plan. So couldn't the project, whatever shape it takes, wind up impacting the new Squibb Bridge?
"We've been in close coordination with the DOT," Landau told us, "and we don't think there is a specific impact to the Squibb Bridge project related to the BQE, just based on the way the BQE curves, and where the curve happens... the bridge is just slightly north of that. So at this time we do not believe that there will be any impact."
The pool planned for Squibb Park, however, would be much more likely to be impacted by the BQE construction. Landau says they would put out a design RFP for the pool now, but they are continuing to talk to the DOT about this, while also raising more funds for that project.
If you, taxpayer, are asking who is paying for all these bridges, Landau said the original bridge was funded with $4 million in city capital; i.e., taxpayer money. Doug Turesky at the Independent Budget Office notes, "It’s money the city borrowed and taxpayers are footing the bill for principal and interest." After closing the bridge due to what Landau described as "structural and design issues," the not-for-profit Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation [BBPC] spent another $3.4 million retrofitting the bridge, which reopened in 2017, only to close again soon after. At this point, BBPC sued the original engineer (Ted Zoli of HNTB) for the $3.4 million in damages, and settled for just under $2 million. "The cost of rebuilding the new bridge will also come out of [the BBPC] reserve fund," Landau told us.