The Daily Plant : Monday, December 8, 2003
A COMMUTER HIGHWAY ALONGSIDE MANHATTAN’S GREENWAY
Thanks to Mayor Bloomberg’s commitment to increasing waterfront access, Manhattan’s Hudson-facing riverfront is among the waters making news all year long. From the renovations at the Battery to the brand new Hudson River Park, Manhattan’s west side riverfronts are now full of life, rescued from decades of neglect and disuse. Piers that were once in shambles are now prime fishing locations and playgrounds; views that were once ignored are now highlighted; and shorelines that were once inaccessible now host sailboat and kayak launches. Now that Manhattan’s Waterfront Greenway is well on its way to completion, Parks & Recreation is hoping to develop the area further, by partnering with the State Department of Transportation to make the Greenway part of a new public transport system, with piers and bridges along the Greenway serving as landings for small, high-speed ferries. Such a system would both relieve pressure on the crowded 1/9 subway line and further revitalize the Hudson River’s many waterfront structures.
One proposed waterway stop is Riverside South’s historic gantry, a long pier-like structure, located on the Hudson River at West 69th Street. Once used to transfer train cars from the west side to rail yards in New Jersey, the gantry is also called the West 69th Central Transfer Bridge. The gantry’s unique design—it has a pair of hinged bridge decks that function something like motorized canal locks—earned it a place on the National Register for Historic Places in June. During last year’s renovations of Riverside Park South, the gantry was stabilized—for aesthetic and practical purposes—but not restored. With the support of the Riverside South Planning Corporation, a nonprofit organization formed to design Riverside Park South, Parks & Recreation is hoping to renovate the gantry, so that it once again becomes a working pier, used by commuter ferries and water taxis. Such a plan will not only provide Westsiders with an alternative to the subway; it will also preserve the gantry’s historic character. "The gantry won’t just be a point of transportation, it will also be an historic interpretation of a working waterfront," said KC Sahl, Riverside Park’s Administrator.
Although it’s too early to estimate when we’ll see stockbrokers zipping down the Hudson on their way to work, the gantry’s restoration is already underway. Parks & Recreation is currently drawing up a Request For Proposals (RFP) for its design and the Riverside South Planning Corporation has already raised significant funds for the project. A million dollars in funding was awarded through the Transportation Enhancement Program, which is a federal reimbursement program. The Corporation also procured monies from the State Department of Transportation, through the T-21 Transportation Act and the Port Authority has committed to the project, providing soundings and soil studies. Because the gantry is an historic structure, Parks & Recreation is also eligible for grant money from the Environmental Protection Agency. The Riverside South Planning Corporation hopes to raise enough money to restore the gantry, as well as the two small "finger piers" attached to it.
The float bridge will have to undergo significant renovations to become safe, accessible, and useful. Riverside South Planning Corporation’s restoration plan includes repairing the float bridge’s pilings, bracing the bridge girders, stabilizing the housing which holds the bridge decks, adding new walkways and, for historic accuracy, replacing missing rail road tracks. When completed, a working gantry will be both a return to the past, when Manhattan’s waterfronts were busy, bustling places, and part of New York’s modern, post-industrial waterfront, designed to make New Yorkers their every day lives more convenient.
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
"Time cools, time clarifies; no mood can be maintained quite unaltered through the course of hours."
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