By Carol Tannenhauser
Riverside Park is getting a $348 million investment from the city to shore up its infrastructure, a press release announced on Monday. The money will be used to “rehabilitate the Overbuild in Riverside Park, bringing the 1930s-era infrastructure into a state of good repair.”
Creating Riverside Park required covering over railroad tracks, accomplished by that most respected and reviled of parks commissioners, Robert Moses, in the early 20th Century.
“The Overbuild is a series of bridge structures underneath Riverside Park, built over the Amtrak lines from W. 72nd to W. 123rd streets. Its deterioration has affected the park’s usability, causing damaged pathways and an appearance of disrepair in the park,” the release explained. “NYC Parks and DOT have developed a multi-faceted approach to addressing the structural condition, which includes additional inspections and temporary stabilization work. The full project details and timeline will be determined during the design process.”
In recent years, repeated flooding has led to deterioration throughout the park — and concerns that the underlying bridges have been weakened. The city has said the train tunnel is not in any immediate danger, but parks advocates have sounded the alarm.
Ruined infrastructure in Riverside Park means massive flooding after every rain. So bad at 116th St that there’s a seasonal bog with wetland grasses where a lawn used to be. Not good for train tunnel. @DanGarodnick @RiversideParkNY @nycfuture @NY4P pic.twitter.com/bV12rGOtx8
— Adrian Benepe (@Adrian_Benepe) August 20, 2018
Hank Gutman, commissioner of DOT (Department of Transportation), warned that the work will be challenging. “With a state highway and major Amtrak lines both bisecting it, Riverside Park faces transportation and engineering challenges that must be met by both creative planning and long-term investment,” he said. “The funding will bring major infrastructure upgrades that will make this historic park safer and more enjoyable for both pedestrians and cyclists.”
Dan Garodnick, president of the Riverside Park Conservancy lauded the city’s investment, “the largest investment in the park since the 1930s,” he said. “The City is committing well over half a billion dollars to restoring Riverside Park’s structural core.”
This investment is in addition to more than $300 million previously committed by the de Blasio administration to rehabilitate Riverside Park’s infrastructure — “including $200 million to reconstruct the W. 79th Street Rotunda complex, $90 million to reconstruct the W. 79th Street Boat Basin, and more than $10 million to reconstruct pathways and staircases within the park. Mayor de Blasio has also funded an $11.5 million project to begin addressing the park’s drainage systems,” the release stated.
“A recovery for all of us means investing in our green spaces,” the Mayor said. “Riverside Park is a New York City gem and I’m proud this investment will keep it going strong for generations to come.”