City Invests $348 Million to Rehabilitate Riverside Park’s Flood-Weakened Core

Flooding has been a consistent problem in Riverside Park.

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.

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.”

NEWS, OUTDOORS | 33 comments | permalink
    1. Gehrheart_Schmidt_69 says:

      Great news, long overdue.

    2. SK says:

      Hmm, I wonder if this includes work on the train tunnel “roofs” which have only recently shown major signs of serious decline

      • Lizzie says:

        That is specifically what this is is about: the Overbuild is the term for the “train roof.”

    3. chuck d says:

      Wow, don’t hire the people who did the Bull Moose dog run

    4. SM says:

      $200MM for the 79th St Rotunda and $90MM for he Boat Basin.
      Where has the money gone? Last I looked, the rotunda is in a state of disrepair (as it has been for the past 15+ years) and the Boat Basin is still closed.

      • Brandon says:

        The dollar figures cited for the Rotunda and Basin reflect total lifetime funding commitments for projects that remain ongoing, so it’s a little misleading to describe the money as “previously spent.”

        Don’t worry, what you see today at the Rotunda is not what your $200 million has bought you.

        • SM says:

          I don’t understand your comment.

          Are you saying the deBlasio committed all this money, hasn’t spent it and now leaves it up to the next administration to first find the funds and then actually fix the rotunda/boat basin?

          • Paul says:

            It hasn’t begun yet.

          • robert says:

            debalz has announced the project, but it has yet to be fully or even 1/3 funded. The monies are supposed come from “out-year” budgets as they say in an election year announcement of projects they can’t pay for. And by election year I meant2017/2018 With debalz leaving the next mayor at least a 9-billion hole don’t hold your breath Cuomo’s is 15-billion, both are using “expected revenue items” from the next two fiscal years to fund things this year. And don’t blame C19, Biden made NYS/NYC whole for those costs. These are additional spend increases. Large tax/fee increases coming 2022/23

      • mk says:

        I’m glad I’m not the only one confused by that statement!

      • JR says:

        The boat basin is not closed. I have a boat there.

    5. Crankypants says:

      Safer for pedestrians? Let’s start with the ATVs and E-bikes…

    6. susan says:

      Not to mention the “Spandex Commandos” who speed among the pedestrians, elderly, children & dogs along the promenade, instead of down by the river where a bicycle lane was built for them.

      • Juan says:

        I’m not a bike rider but why do you single them out? What about the dog owners who let their dogs off leash at illegal times or have them on very long leashes, blocking away? What about the kids who veer all over the place? What about the elderly who walk five across at a snail’s pace and block walkways? What about the people of all ages (sometimes including myself) whose heads are buried in their phones? This is fun – you can blame anyone if you want to!

        Now get off my lawn!

        • DavidS says:

          “What about the elderly who walk five across at a snail’s pace and block walkways?”

          I don’t know of anyone who’s been killed or injured by a pack of slow-moving senior citizens. Can you say the same about fast-moving cyclists?

      • Boris says:

        If, as you say, dedicated bike lanes were built for cyclists by the river, then why do pedestrians continue to walk there instead of just the promenade? According to your logic, pedestrians should be banned from the river walk.

        • Jaques Cousteau says:

          Everyone needs to calm down. Most of the spandex weekend warriors ride Riverside up to the GWB. You *never* see large pelotons on the waterside path.

          What you do see are a lot of ebikes & scooters. Which are way more dangerous to both pedestrians and other cyclists.

    7. Ira Gershenhorn says:

      Hope this includes daylighting existing streams and not continuing the Robert Moses attitude of let someone else pay for it later.

    8. JL says:

      What would be amazing would be to bury the Henry Hudson Parkway much like the Amtrak, but with exits and entrances, etc. Who needs that monstrosity bisecting the park, not to mention all the noise and exhaust? It would be a massive project, but then Riverside Park would be truly marvelous. We should think big!

      • Eric says:

        A great idea … in fact, exactly the same idea that was proposed for the West Side Highway to be dubbed Westway – sink it below grade to make waterfront access easier. Sadly it was killed due to concerns about pollution and and an adverse impact on fish in the Hudson.

      • Cut off from the Hudson says:

        This is my dream! It’ll never happen.

    9. good humor says:

      Riverside Park needs more trees and underbrush.

    10. Matt H says:

      Good, long overdue.

      Also there are some one-track minds in this commentariat. No, not every story about Riverside Park needs you to invoke the specter of Lycra Louts running you down! Oy vey.

    11. Marianne says:

      JL I love your idea – but is “burying” Henry Hudson Parkway even feasible? The noise and exhaust are vile -wrecks the whole idea of a park – a “park” with a highway going through it.
      I’ll back you on this one!

      • Nevets K says:

        Think of the savings if we can get rid of – or simply close down – both the park and the highway!
        Now THAT’S thinking big!
        Or, wait, keep the highway for the bike riders — and the park for pedestrians! And don’t let either on the other!
        Then we can shut down the Amtrak line, rip up the tracks, and use the tunnel — for cars!
        And the protected electric bike lane, stretching sixty blocks on Central Park West?
        That, and only that, can remain as it is: a six foot wide buffer, formerly filled with the parked cars of residents and apartment building workers, now virtually unused but offering an unobstructed view of the stone wall bordering the park.

    12. Progressivetry says:

      It’s basic current planning to place cars underground- highways and streets. No excuse. All the main issues with pollution can be mitigated through contemporary ventilation. Singapore is a simple example and many other cities have done it or are underway.

      OnlyCurrent politics and lining the pockets of traditional construction companies prevent it- and sadly they will win because of the greed that has overtaken ummm…

    13. robert says:

      Part I
      Back in the 1970’s when I was a kid they stripped the highway completely off and rebuilt the entire support structure for the promenade as well. Unfortunately, like much in the city it has not been touched since. Getting rid of preventative maintenance may save money this year but exponential increases the cost in latter years. It was a multiyear project. They save a lot of money and time doing it at once and should do it that way again. Though I’m sure the bike lobby will claim that the are being “punished”

    14. robert says:

      Part II
      The only reason the 79th street rotunda is in such bad shape is the weight of the buses parked/driving over it. It is a lightweight-steel structure with stone cladding. The interior of it is hollow and has a parking garage. A number of years ago a group of self-appointed community leaders pressured CB7 and our electeds to have the MTA extend the M79 to RSD. The MTA/DOT at the time warned that would make the layover/turnaround point the rotunda. They pushed it through anyway. No other crosstown bus goes over to RSD. Now the chickens have come home.

    15. Donald says:

      I don’t understand why they don’t put benches on the Upper paths along the River down by the Boat Basin,
      72-83 Street. That way a person can sit by the River without being run over by a bike or a runner. The Upper Paths are safe, why aren’t there benches there???

    16. mg says:

      i hope these improvements will not further deplete the bird population. with lack of a constant water source and the tearing up of many bushes the birds are disappearing. the birds were once a big draw for the park.

    17. Cathy says:

      Everyone who knows Riverside Park cherishes it. But – Who’s minding the cash register? A total of $648 MILLION? Of course there are questions…New Yorkers are in danger now from mentally challenged homeless people. Make everyone’s safety a priority! The City needs Common Ground’s help. Half of that $648 million goes a long way with Common Ground.

    18. leslie Shreve says:

      I wish we could find funds to save the beautiful Soldiers and Sailors Monument as well. It is a NY treasure.