Squibb Park Footbridge Repairs Will Cost $700K, Truth To Cost More

Whatever structural engineering issues are keeping the fancy $5 million Squibb Park Bridge (aka “Bouncy Bridge”) closed until spring must be pretty serious: repairing the distinctively bouncy pedestrian footbridge that failed after only a year will cost about $700,000, and it’s unclear when if ever the public will find out what exactly went wrong. That’s the word straight from the the leadership of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation at a public board meeting on Thursday (2/26).

The BBP board ended up approving the $700,000 repair job as an amendment to an existing contract. Yet when pressed by fellow BBP members about recouping the money or publishing findings on what exactly hobbled the 450-foot-long swaying suspension bridge, Brooklyn Bridge Park chair Alicia Glen and president Regina Myer attempted to deflect.

“One question there: we’re offering nearly $700,000 in repairs,” said BBP board member Zeeshan Ott during the meeting. “Is there any we can stipulate that that authorization is contingent on, also an investigation and a public report released on what exactly were the structural concerns there…?”

“Our focus is to get the bridge open and get it fixed,” replied Myer. “Yes, once we have it, um…” before trailing off and pivoting: “The goal is to open the bridge as quickly as possible. It is a very, very important and vital connection to the park. And we focused with our third party engineers on fixing the bridge as quickly as possible. And we have worked with our engineers to ensure we will look into that.”

Steven M. Cohen, BBP board member/lawyer and former top aide to Andrew Cuomo, tried to press the BBP leadership on the issue. “I think the request or question is: what are we doing to pursue recovery of what we’re paying for the remediation? I would assume that whether it was in the design, in the execution of the construction, something clearly went wrong which requires the remediation…”

“We are doing that,” said BBP’s legal counsel. “The priority from a public standpoint is to make sure the bridge is open as soon as possible. We are focused on that. We are not waving any of our legal rights against any parties who could potentially be responsible.”

“But again, just so we’re clear, the answer is you are pursuing that?” Cohen asked. “I understand the priority is opening the bridge, but…”

“We’re doing both at the same time,” Glen said. “We’re going to be getting the bridge open and simultaneously making sure we’re exercising any of our rights under the various assurance and potential claims…these things are not mutually exclusive.”

Ott then noted that it’s important that there’s public confidence in the bridge after it re-opens, and sensibly said that should come in the form of a public report. But when asked about this, Myer waffled, saying leadership had been focusing on using data they’ve gotten from monitoring the bridge, but that they would consider a report. A BBP spokesperson also told The Brooklyn Paper that “work on a study is ongoing” (The Brooklyn Paper’s words) and that repairs would begin soon.

While that report may still materialize and it remains to be seen what happens with recouping the costs of the repairs, the defensive crouching position that BBP park leadership seems to be taking surrounding the Squibb Park Bridge will only add fuel to critics of the board’s transparency (or lack thereof). Meanwhile, the bridge — which opened in March 2013 and closed in September 2014, initially for “2 to 3 weeks” — remains shuttered and off-limits.

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  • Jorale-man

    Kudos to the Brooklyn Heights Blog for covering this and questioning the accountability of the BBP board. As a public agency their lack of transparency is very disappointing on these matters.

  • King Lou

    So not a surprise. Classic architects blunder. Putting in a nonsensical untested “wishful” touch. Remember the scalding hot metal “children’s play lumps” that were in the park when it first opened. Are they really going to blow $1 million dollars to fix that bridge? I doubt it will be fixed this year and I wouldn’t be surprised for it to be replaced with a non-bouncy variant.

  • dirty money

    dismantle it now. I am rich investor from a foreign country and I don’t want all the skells from Brooklyn getting too close to my 5 million dollar aquarium ..

  • Andrew Porter

    Then, when both parts of the hotel and condos are finished, expect it to be shut down because it violates the privacy and is too noisy for those who paid millions for their apartments in BBP.

  • tide

    one advantage to global warming and rising tides will be that one day the entire folly will be returned to mother nature. Doubt any of will be around to see it , but yes views from the promenade will once again NOT be blocked with this clutter.

  • dirty money

    Yes, Mr Porter I couldn’t agree more. As rich foreign investor I expect privacy during the 10-15 days a year that I will actually be staying there. I also get group of other foreign investor to line the pockets of our elected officials so we have it all locked down. I also form group of foreign investor to lobby and pay off everyone for the demolition and leveling of the entire North Heights as it is blocking my sunrise light. I am rich foreign investor and my view is more important than anyone else’s.

  • A Classic Architect

    “Classic architects blunder”?

    If something was structurally unsound or unsafe it would be an engineering blunder, not an architectural one. Architects design the way bridges look and integrate into their environments, engineers make them work. It’s important to understand this distinction.

    BUT, we don’t even know if that was the case with this bridge. Nobody has come forward with an official explanation for why the bridge was closed. The best thing we have are the snarky but gravely true insights from commenters “dirty money” and “Andrew Porter”.

    I think that the only rational deduction available is that it was a political move that has to do with the Pierhouse construction. Not only is there no evidence that the bridge was unsafe, it also does indeed serve as a vital connection point between the Heights/Montague Business District/Cadman Plaza area and the park.

  • HicksOnHicks

    Investors, foreign or local, should be welcome. What difference does it make if the money is from Queens, New Jersey or Bolivia? If you have an issue, its with your progressive elected officials who are finally in power and won’t let democracy or openness slow them down.

  • Heights Observer

    Not all foreign investors should be welcome. Dirty money from other countries comes from bad places and from people who do bad things to earn that money and they are parking their money here because it is ill gotten. Ask any Londoner how they feel about Putin’s friends ruining their city by pushing up real estate prices. It is making the city unaffordable to everyone else. This has been well documented in many news articles and the same people now have their sights set on NY. Have you not heard of One 57?

  • HicksOnHicks

    There’s housing in the park to fund its operations. The way to minimize the extent of housing is to pursue its highest economic value. We’ll have more park and less housing if its built for Putin’s bros.

    There are a lot of things making city housing unaffordable. Union labor, dept of buildings, logistics, taxes, scarcity value and stagnant wages. The oligarchs are occupying a rarefied space that doesn’t compete for my housing. The last buyer in our building was a Joralemon St dentist.

    Maybe we just have to agree to disagree?

  • Jazz

    instead of reacting like a Fox News robot perhaps you should familiarize yourself with the reality of the park’s finances – they don’t need any housing at this point to finance it.

  • ujh

    Thank you for staying focused on the issue at hand.
    (1) Is it conceivable that, say, a large number of people jumping up and down at the same time (as I have witnessed) can cause a torqueing problem?
    (2) It is conceivable that the developer requested bridge closure because of potential damage caused by members of the public?

  • TeddyNYC

    Yeah, I’ve witnessed large groups of people jumping on the bridge as well. I don’t think it was the best idea to build a bridge that “encourages” some people to jump up and down. I don’t think that bridge can take abuse like that without some negative consequences down the road.

  • TeddyNYC

    I think it would be safer to replace it with a non-bouncy variant. I’m not sure if I’ll use it again when it opens.

  • Solovely

    Dear HickOnHicks,
    “Putin’s bros”? Are we to somehow “benefit,” according to your thoughts, from corruption in other countries when citizens suffer? Not all foreign money is welcome in NYC. I still hope, we are a principled enough country, that we at least aspire to this standard. I welcomed the NyTimes article shedding light on this. Of course, this is an issue much beyond the BBP… or the little, but expensive, Squibb Park Footbridge ;)

  • StoptheChop

    But no one EVER says no to tourists!

  • Heights Observer

    Building housing for Oligarchs means that they don’t build affordable housing for anyone else even upper middle class people. Again, look at London where neighborhoods are dying and you have to be super wealthy to afford a place to live. The rich Russians are investing in astronomically-priced housing and neighborhood stores disappear because the Oligarchs live there only two weeks a year. A drug store or a grocery or a shoe store needs people to shop year round and the pied-à-terre crowd doesn’t support them. Again, this is documented ans I suggest you read up on the issue. That will happen here if we allow it.
    And, by the way, if you see the giant rats in front of buildings, and see the building work on Saturdays and Sundays and Holidays that means they are not union. It is typical of the Fox News Crowd to blame Unions and government for all of our ills, but never admit that there are greedy rich people that just maybe, might be causing a problem because they are selfish. Believe me a bus driver seeking a better wage is less of a problem to society at large than a real estate baron buying off a politician for his own selfish ends!

  • T.K. Small

    Sadly, I’m coming to the conclusion that Brooklyn Heights is on its decline and it largely relates to the creation of Brooklyn Bridge Park. There are just too damn many people!

  • Remsen Street Dweller

    And I must add to that, the closing of Long Island College Hospital, which served this community for over 155 years. For this, blame New York State C – O – R – R – U – P – T – I – O – N. Do you hear us now, Preet Bahara?

  • ShinyNewHandle

    The tourist trapification is just disgusting.

  • StoptheChop

    But our neighborhood is expected to donate to the Park to support its programming, right?

  • Heights Observer

    Sad to say, but I totally agree with you . It is just not the same quiet gem of a neighborhood it used to be.

  • ml77

    yes, and the wrong kinds of people, right? “those people” coming in from “bad” neighborhoods, being “loud” and ruining our nice neighborhood.

    If anything is leading to the “decline” of this area, it’s attitudes like these.

  • ShinyNewHandle

    I for one am talking about “visiting tourists” walking “over the Brooklyn Bridge” to “take pictures” and “eat food.” Nice people, but there are *thousands* of them.

  • Moni

    Finally someone with an interesting and logical opinion — someone who acually knows what he/she is talking about. Makes sense to me.

  • A Classic Architect

    What exactly is a “torqueing problem”? This bridge was designed so that the pedestrian walkway would shift freely with weight. It is supposed to be a playful experience, and as far as I can tell it was designed within the safety parameters that unless someone deliberately vaults themselves over the railing they are not going to be trampolined to their death, as TeddyNYC seems to suggest in his comment on March 1.

    If your concern is that the railing is too low then by extension we should be calling for a higher protective barrier along the promenade and along Columbia Heights, where just this past summer someone fell the thirty-something foot distance from the sidewalk into a planted area in Squibb Park. (On a side note, does anyone remember that or know what became of the victim?) I would ask that you be consistent in your display of concern for safety.

  • Roberto Gautier

    Today, March 2, 2015, we learned from the NY Daily News that the Brooklyn Bridge Rehabilitation Project will balloon over budget by hundreds of millions and the completion date will be pushed deeper into 2016. No mention of relief by the de Blasio administration for residents who live at both ends of the Bridge. The de facto waiver of the NYC Noise Code that permits continued after-hours construction will be extended. Of course, we support fixing the Bridge. No one wants to fall through. But, either way you slice it, the bridge repair business can be quite lucrative.

  • TeddyNYC

    I’m just curious from a safety perspective why the bridge was abruptly closed during the summer and why it will cost close to a million to repair? I never came close to suggesting people would be “trampolined to their death” by jumping on the bridge. That’s an asinine comment. My issue is the potential for structural failure which I have to assume was the reason the bridge was abruptly closed during the height of the summer tourist season. I did mention jumping as a potential cause for the closure. If they were a little more transparent, I wouldn’t have to assume anything, we would all know.

  • A Classic Architect

    We have about as much evidence that the bridge’s closure was because of “potential for structural failure” as we have evidence that it was closed because it was haunted. Meanwhile I think most of us can agree that political reasons are probably behind it, based on how everything else involving this particular piece of real estate development has been going.

  • ShinyNewHandle

    I don’t know why the repair bill is so high, but the footpath had begun to permanently list, and little metal parts were already showing rust. Now, the rust was evident earlier, and rumors of impending repairs were circulating *maybe* even before completion. I think I would trust a man on the ground in a hardhat (if that’s where the rumors originated) to know more than The Powers That Be, who might have closed the bridge because the behemoth Pierhouse construction was approaching it, which could possibly make things worse, and even lead to personal injury lawsuits.