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New Queens to Manhattan Bridge Proposed for Cyclists and Pedestrians

Queens Ribbon Bridge. (Rendering provided by T.Y. Lin International)

June 25, 2020 By Michael Dorgan

A new bridge connecting Queens to Manhattan — that would only carry cyclists and pedestrians — has been proposed by a group of transport experts.

The bridge, which is being called Queens Ribbon due to its slim design, would run from Long Island City through Roosevelt Island and into midtown Manhattan, according to renderings released Wednesday.

The design was created by Sam Schwartz, a former city traffic commissioner, along with engineers from NYU Tandon School of Engineering and T.Y. Lin International. The group said the city needs such a structure due to the increased number of people opting to walk or cycle across East River bridges.

For instance, daily bike traffic increased on the Queensboro Bridge from 4,243 average bridge crossings in 2013 to 5,044 average bridge crosses in 2018, according to DOT data.

The Queens Ribbon, the group said, would meet future demand by carrying up to 20,000 people per day.

The new structure would consist of a 20-foot wide bridge deck pathway that would be suspended by cables. The cables would be supported by three delta-shaped towers located near the Long Island City shore, at Roosevelt Island, and near the Manhattan shore. Each tower would be around 300 feet tall and 200 feet.

The bridge deck pathway would contain two five-foot lanes for cyclists going in each direction. A separate 10-foot wide lane would be constructed for pedestrians to share. The deck would hang around 125 feet above the East River.

Ribbon Bridge Typical Cross-section (Rendering provided by T.Y. Lin International)

The early design plans do not give an exact starting point for the Long Island City entrance/exit.

An area within the future East Midtown Greenway waterfront – a 1.5-acre public space stretching from East 53rd to 61st Streets – is being touted as the Manhattan entrance/exit. Exit 8 on FDR Drive at 41st Street has also been suggested for the Manhattan side entrance/exit, according to a report by Gothamist.

Pedestrians and cyclists looking to access the bridge on Roosevelt Island would be able to do so via an elevator.

The group gave a preliminary cost of around $100 million for the project and said it could be constructed within 10 years.

They also released similar design plans for two other bridges connecting to Manhattan. One bridge would link Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn and the other would run from Manhattan to New Jersey.

The proposals would need city and state approval and come at a time when city finances, in particular, are in a dire condition due to the COVID-19 shutdowns.

Tax revenues are down by around $9 billion, the mayor announced at a press briefing Wednesday.

The mayor when asked about the bridge plan at that briefing said it would be difficult to conceptualize the building of such structures right now given the economic crisis. He said that another option might be to re-purpose existing bridges.

Queens Ribbon Bridge. (Rendering provided by T.Y. Lin International)

The Queensboro Bridge, which was constructed in 1909 is the only direct connection for pedestrians and cyclists between Queens and Midtown Manhattan.

Currently, bicyclists and pedestrians share a narrow space on the north outer roadway. Bicycle and pedestrian advocates have said that the lane has become too busy and is dangerous.

They are pushing for the north outer roadway to be dedicated for bicyclists with the south outer roadway, currently used by cars, for sole pedestrian use.

The Triborough Bridge, which opened in 1936, has one small lane for pedestrians and cyclists are required to walk their bikes on this lane. It lacks a direct connection to Manhattan and therefore only has a fraction of the Queensboro Bridge bike and foot traffic.

Retrofitting old bridges to accommodate more cyclists or pedestrians would be challenging, Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said at Wednesday’s briefing.

Trottenberg said that the agency, however, was open to exploring the new bridge proposals.

“We have budget challenges right now, but I think it’s exciting what he’s [Sam Schwartz] put forward and will be engaging with my leadership on it,” she said.

View from Manhattan’s eastside (rendering by T.Y. Lin International)

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17 Comments

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Sparky McCooder

I like it! I think a Greenpoint-23rd Street pedestrian bridge would also be greatly appreciated. Mike Bloomberg could have paid for most of it with the 500M he wasted on his stupid presidential campaign!

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DAN R

The southern tip of Roosevelt Is. is at 46th-47th Sts so this bridge cannot be below this point in Manhattan unless they plan on putting pilings into the river bed.

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Astoria Resident

Using the 59th Street Bridge’s north outer roadway for bicyclists and the south outer roadway solely for pedestrian use is the answer that costs $0.00. I used to walk over the 59th regularly until kamikaze cyclists ruined it.

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ASensibleMan

Don’t worry, the Washington bridge will soon be renamed the George Floyd Bridge and the Verrazano bridge the Indigenous People’s Bridge. Just you wait.

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Alexander

Looks great and a great idea.
But it would and should be adouble decker.
Pedestrians don’t respect the bicycle lane, and most cyclists think they own the road!
I see this all the time on the Brooklyn Bridge!!
This bridge would also end up as a tourist attraction causing overcrowding and difficulties for both cyclists and local pedestrians!!
Dedicated paths with barriers could also be an alternative to keep cyclists and pedestrians separate and still enjoy the day and get to their destination accident and stress free!

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Babs

I would LOVE it if they could split pedestrians and cyclists to separate lanes on either side of the Queensboro Bridge. The current pathway is very narrow. Cyclists can be quite aggressive and fly by far too close for comfort often using the pedestrian lane to get past and it can be bit nervewracking. Far better if they had their own space 😀

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Tamara

I truly hope that this comes to fruition one day ! So needed ! I ride my bike on the Queensboro bridge everyday to work and I do it while holding my handle bars with a death grip !

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Wagner Santiago

Maybe a smaller bridge, dedicated to pedestrians and cyclists only, would solve the need and give incentive to these people to bike and walk more, instead of driving to Manhattan.

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John

Why don’t they let pedestrians and cyclists use the south side of the queenboro bridge also this would surely dilute the level of traffic that is making the north side very over crowded at present

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guest

If they are building it new, why do they make pedestrians and bikers go on same platform? I don’t want to walk where cyclists are riding full speed.

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Merman

NYC is getting soft:
-Brooklyn Bridge
-Queensboro Bridge
-George Washington Bridge
-Verrazano Narrows Bridge
………
-Ribbon Bridge :/

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