In April, the city announced it would set aside $723 million in capital funds from the upcoming fiscal budget to finish off the Manhattan Greenway, pending a final agreement with the City Council. The project, dating back to the 1990s, would bring a 32-mile perimeter bike path around the borough.
But a report by the Independent Budget Office found $53 million more in capital monies earmarked for the mega project, putting the actual budget at $776 million. That previously undisclosed money will go towards building a bridge over the notoriously tight East River “pinch point,” running between East 13th and 15th Streets.
Spokespersons for the Mayor’s Office and city Department of Transportation, which is managing the massive project, did not immediately return a request for comment explaining why $53 million went undisclosed for the Greenway budget.
The project is part of a major effort, stitching unbuilt sections of the networks together, including 11 miles of bike path on the Hudson River in the West Side and the 9.4-mile East River Esplanade (here’s a PDF of the map). The latest phase—a section on the East River between East 53rd and 61st Streets—began in November 2019, costing $100 million.
Five Greenway-related items have been earmarked in the budget, which is expected to be finalized this week. They include:
- The $182 million upgrade to the pinch point
- A $117 million construction of a causeway abutting the United Nations
- Building out bike paths along the Harlem River waterfront between 145th Street and Highbridge Park to the tune of $170 million
- A new seven-acre park between East 125th and East 132nd streets
- $307 million in improvements for further waterfront access in Inwood
The report also found that the city DOT will manage $364 million of the budget, with the Economic Development Corporation managing the rest of the entire budget.
The last couple of years have been historically deadly for New York City cyclists. And according to a DOT report released last July, “there have never been more people biking in New York City,” with an increase number of New Yorkers taking their two-wheelers to work. (Local bike shops are still out of stock.) The report found there were an average of 12,470 riders traveling to work in Manhattan between the years 2011 and 2013; the average number in 2018 grew to 20,092 riders.
The final Greenway projects will begin construction in 2023, and they aim to complete the work by 2029.
Jon Orcutt, the director of advocacy for Bike New York, questioned whether the timetable is even realistic for the Greenway section near the United Nations.
“The big gap by the UN on the East Side involves pretty major construction over water, which will be subject to rigorous state environmental review,” Orcutt said. “The city also doesn’t build anything in the public right [away] very quickly so this timeframe may be ambitious.”