Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation Suing Designers of Squibb Park Pedestrian Bridge

Gothamist reports that the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation has begun a lawsuit against HNTB Corporation and HNTB New York Engineering and Architecture, P.C., designers and contract administrators for the Squibb Park Pedestrian Bridge, which opened in March of 2013 but which was closed in August of 2014 and has remained closed since. According to the complaint, appended to the Gothamist article, filed in Supreme Court, New York County by BBPC’s attorney, the Corporation Counsel of the City of New York, the design of the bridge was “defective.” The complaint alleges breach of contract and professional malpractice on the part of the HNTB defendants, and seeks damages “in an amount to be determined at trial, but not less than $3 million.”

The Gothamist piece quotes BBPC spokesperson Belinda Cape: “[I]t has become clear that [HNTB] was either unwilling or unable to provide a workable solution to fix the bridge, and that its design was inherently flawed.” She also says BBPC has hired Arup to replace HNTB as the new engineer of record for the bridge project. According to Brownstoner’s story on the BBPC lawsuit, Arup has six months to draw up plans to fix the bridge, and those plans must then be approved by BBPC’s board, so it is unlikely that the bridge will re-open anytime soon. Brownstoner also says thae amount of damages claimed is $6 million, not $3 million, although the complaint, which is also appended to the Brownstoner story, says $3 million.

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  • StudioBrooklyn

    Would it be weird or gauche to copy my comments about this item into here from this week’s OTW?

  • King Lou

    I’ve always said that bridge was a classic case of architectural over-design. Doing something cool just to do it regardless of its longterm feasibility. I’m guessing it’s just going to be replaced with a plain walkway or get torn down and suddenly they decide they are going to use that space for more buildings or private space for the super rich.

  • Jorale-man

    One side-effect will be that park users will continue to flood Joralemon Street sidewalks for at least another summer now. They really need to come up with some better strategies of directing crowds to and from the park. It’s only going to get worse as new sections open and they keep hosting more concerts, movies, events, etc.

  • Concerned

    I had to look up “gauche”. Thanks for the new word and its use in a sentence.

  • StoptheChop

    If they cared about the park’s impact on surrounding communities, which they don’t. Because “New York City attraction/destination”, which now comes first; no one is allowed to raise legitimate concerns, not even residents who long preceded the park.

  • Andrew Porter

    On Curbed, someone asked if this was the company that also built the too-bouncy bridge on the Thames in London. Once is an accident, but twice? Hmmm…

  • Andrew Porter

    I wrote the following on Curbed:

    If the original proposal to have a pedestrian bridge coming off of the Promenade, going down to the Park, had gone through, a lot less unwanted pedestrian traffic would have poured through Middagh Street in the north Heights, Joralemon Street in the south Heights.

    There were also proposals for a tunnel coming off the platform at the Clark Street 2/3 subway, which would have directed pedestrian traffic from a direct subway connection.

  • Concerned

    Let this bridge stay closed. The North Heights is a much better place without it.

  • Jorale-man

    It appears that Arup, which is now stepping in, was behind the Millennium Bridge in London. It had to be closed soon after it opened because it was swaying too much. Perhaps they’ve learned from that experience…

  • Eddyde

    Part of the blame is with the BBPC as they chose to go with such a radical unproven design.
    Also, too much reliance on computer aided design. The Brooklyn Bridge was designed in the mid 19th century and its still standing strong.

  • AnonyMom

    The park has mishandled the bridge from its inception, to the construction to it’s repair. According to, it’s going to take another 6 months for the new design team to come up with a plan and it will cost over $500K of taxpayer money. BBPC wants to repair it even though the design is “inherently flawed?” Outrageous. Let’s just say they win their $3M law suit. Are they going to reimburse the taxpayers? The total construction cost $5M. What faith should the public have in BBPC? They have reneged on their promises to the community on the height of Pier House, the pedestrian bridge has been closed longer than it was open and what IMHO is a conflict of interest, their board members have purchased property at Pier House. Not to mention they have not been transparent about their finances and have ignored recommendations by the Comptroller’s office on how to fund the park with bonds. Yet, BBPC wants approval to build housing at Pier 6? So far, Empire State Development remains silent on the matter after all the public forums. Let’s hope the will of our elected officials and that of countless citizens has been heard by the higher ups. BBPC needs to be held accountable.

  • Doug Biviano

    I was with you on the KISS approach. The giant berm that won’t grow grass also comes to mine. Suggestion on the berm – baseball fields or like Tony Manheim has advocated, paid parking structure (with green walls so looks natural) that acts as both a sound barrier and more importantly would generate a lot of revenue to offset the need for Condos at Pier 6. NOTE, I use the word ‘need’ loosely. All the skyscrapers going up in Brooklyn belies the notion that we cannot pay for BBP maintenance short or long term.

  • Doug Biviano

    You assume “the will of our elected officials” and what they do and say in back rooms are the same. They are not. Squadron had veto power over this in an election year in 2010 (not a coincidence but part of the the game of controlling elections by those in power) then gave up veto for bogus formula with Watchtower property sales that had no chance. He did this wthout any consultation with community. deBlasio gets arrested at LICH to get elected then works all weekend to put NYU Langone deal back together after they back out. Levin has major fundamental reservations about selling off public land for private development to “save the library” but does so anyway for a few concessions he could have got in any budget on any given year because now that Vito Lopez is gone he has to give dowry to his new political masters at the Working Family Party / BerlinRosen machine, that is, deBlasio and Lander.

  • StudioBrooklyn

    omg you guys there was nothing wrong with the bridge, structurally. Every structural engineer I’ve heard from, who wasn’t paid by the BBPC or Pierhouse to conduct their survey, has said so. SOME (such as “Concerned”) believe that it brought riff-raff into the north Heights (although I would argue that this allegation remains dubious, given that the bridge’s development coincided with the development of the park and the post-Sandy rejuvenation of south Dumbo and therefore it can’t be isolated as a variable), but nobody was ever hurt or injured on the bridge that I’m aware of, nobody even came close to falling off, and there seems to have been a culture of fear surrounding it as soon as someone suggested it MIGHT be unsafe and this charge snowballed under the power of the growing anti-development sentiment.

    I like the bridge. I always liked it. It’s fun to walk on, and it’s definitely a more enjoyable route into or out of the park than the Columbia Heights slope. And the more I come to suspect that the Pierhouse people feel it’s an intrusion into their bubble, and that this is the real reason behind its closure, the more I want to see the bridge open so that I can stare into the multimillion dollar condos and make their inhabitants one-millionth as uncomfortable as they should.

  • Andrew Porter

    The Brooklyn Bridge was over-designed. Constructed so that you could literally suspend an 1880s warship on its cables, and it would support the weight. Contrast this with “Galloping Gertie,” the Tacoma-Narrows bridge that acted as an airfoil, when the designers didn’t take the cross-winds into account.

  • Taters

    Just go for it.

  • Concerned

    The bridge brings more crowds through the North Heights. Can you deny this? Of course not. Members of those crowds include tourists, neighbors and yes, even some troublemakers. Can you deny this? Of course not. Now, my experience with the bridge is that I notice the troublemakers more because it only takes one troublemaker to disturb a large amount of people. This is my experience and if you’ve had a different one, that’s great.
    Despite what my experience is with troublemakers, I don’t like that the north heights becomes a thruway for those entering and exiting the park. It’s bad enough that on most summer nights, Joralemon now looks like a parking lot from an nfl game/monster truck rally/rap concert, etc….
    In short, I like the park, I just don’t want our entire neighborhood to be a thruway for ingress/egress for it.

  • rjg

    When the Brooklyn Strand project is finished it will be the main path into Dumbo and Pier 1.

  • StudioBrooklyn

    Why are you so certain that “troublemakers” target their victims according to what’s convenient along their routes to and from a park? How do you know your wall didn’t get tagged because it’s secluded from a main thoroughfare?

    Our whole corner of Brooklyn is becoming a more popular destination for visitors, and that means some amount of them will be problematic. If you think the North Heights has some special entitlement to be spared the runoff from that popularity I must remind you that this isn’t a gated community. One of the reasons the BQE was diverted from running straight through the neighborhood was so that it would retain its ties to the rest of Brooklyn.

    You know whose walls probably aren’t going to get a lot of graffiti? The upper floors of the Pierhouse. You might enjoy living there, and with the bridge closed indefinitely you wouldn’t have to deal with that either.

  • StudioBrooklyn

    OK! Plus see my comments elsewhere on the thread. I am pro-bridge, pro-neighborhood, pro-Brooklyn, and anti-Pierhouse. I also believe that the foot traffic that comes through the Heights to get to or from the park is a boon to our local businesses, especially the restaurants. It probably also makes it easier to catch a cab on Clinton or Henry. So here are my comments from OTW:

    “If the bridge was taxpayer funded (so says Brownstoner) why should the BBPC be awarded the lawsuit money? Shouldn’t it go back to the taxpayers?

    This smacks of BS. Is the BBPC trying to throw someone else under the bus to conceal their own decision to close the bridge under probable pressure from Pierhouse shareholders who don’t want passersby in close proximity of their double glazed windows?”

  • William Gilbert

    Amen to that!

  • William Gilbert

    Sorry, I have to agree with Concerned. I own a dog, and when you own a dog you are forced to walk the streets of the neighborhood sometimes for a very long time whilst Fido sniffs around to do his business. When the bridge was open, I too saw a lot of “troublemakers” there. Been going to that area for years and now it’s suddenly not a safe place at night. I soon realized, for my own safety, I had better avoid Middagh Street. It did not feel like a good place to be.

    Now I have been living in the North Heights for nearly 30 years and never felt uncomfortable on that section of Middagh Street until that bridge opened. It’s OK right now because there is no bridge. Is that just a coincidence? In my opinion, I hope it doesn’t reopen.

    You seem very sure that the Pierhouse people don’t want the bridge, but the place hasn’t even opened so I kind of doubt that they have that much influence just yet. You also doubt what neighborhood people are saying about the area near the bridge, but why would we make this stuff up. Seems to me that you want to make your own alternate reality.

  • Eddyde

    The bridge clearly had very real structural problems before it was closed. I walked over it about a week prior and was kind of shocked it had developed such a noticeable a list towards the north and the bouncyness was much more pronounced.

    At the time I thought it just needed adjustments but now it appears it may indeed be a flawed design. You can see the cables laced across the walkway that are temporarily correcting the problem, obviously a permanent fix has not been found and may not be possible with the current structure.

    I would love you to produce proof of this statement.

    “Every structural engineer I’ve heard from, who wasn’t paid by the BBPC or Pierhouse to conduct their survey, has said so”

    It sounds like pure conjecture on your part, what structural engineers do you really know and how on earth could they know the design is sound without doing extensive testing of the structure and knowing all aspects of its design? I actually do know some structural engineers and know they would not give an answer to such a question simply off the top of their head.

    Furthermore, you Pierhouse conspiracy theory in a whole is kind of silly, you think they would go through this much effort and money just to appease a few would be buyers that might not like the bridge so close to their windows, utter nonsense. Most of the units would not face the bridge at all, especially the most expensive ones.

    The truth is the bridge is more of an asset to the Pierhouse, as it will provide easy access to the Heights. Remember when the bridge was being planned the conspiracy nuts were saying “the bridge is only being built to provide easy access for the hotel (as it was known then).

    For the record I am not simply defending the Pierhouse I think its a travesty, built on corruption and greed. However, I also am rational and will buy into theories built on speculation and coincidence.

    Please show some empirical evidence to support your claims.

  • Concerned

    i hope so. Thanks.

  • Concerned

    With more crowds come more trouble. Who could argue differently? What makes it even worse is that Brooklyn Heights has not received any more police presence, despite an influx in crowds. What is so difficult to understand?
    Also, please spare me the argument of “we’re all Brooklyn” and Brooklyn Heights “isn’t a gated community”. Just because Brooklyn Heights isn’t a “gated community” doesn’t mean we should make it a main thoroughfare for all who want to go to the park. Brooklyn Heights can remain a part of Brooklyn without being trampled over by anyone and everyone who wants to get down to the park. Is it your argument that we should turn beautiful north heights into a parking lot for the masses because, you know…community. Can you argue that Joralemon is not a mess during the summer!?! Why should we do the same to the north heights?

  • StoptheChop

    and yet, both of those options were rejected as being too expensive. I wonder how they compared to the bouncy bridge (actually, the promenade bridge may also have been more technically difficult, having to cross over the BQE).

  • StudioBrooklyn

    Admittedly, you have me at a disadvantage: as I choose to remain anonymous on here I’m conflicted about naming sources, so you can take my word or leave it, but I promise you I have no incentive whatsoever to make this stuff up (shilling jokes aside). In the meantime I shall try to explain as best I can the appraisal that was related to me, via a licensed architect who also agrees with this assessment, by the structural engineer:

    Basically, the reason the engineer believes there was never a structural risk (and I trust his assessment over anything the Pierhouse has come up with on principle but also because the Pierhouse people have set a precedent of duplicitousness) is because of the way the bridge’s opening and closure fit into a sequence of events. If the bridge had been structurally unsound as to warrant closure, the defect would have been addressed at a very different point in the project’s life cycle, as would be standard practice in any other project.

    I’m happy to invite anyone with knowledge of public works architecture and engineering project management to jump in and let me know if I’ve been receiving misinformation, but this is what I’m working with right now: the take of these individuals (engineer and architect known to me, one who also lives in this neighborhood) against the statements released by the same organization that looked our neighborhood in the eye and shook its hand and said it would conform to height restrictions. In the meantime, I’ll go back to my sources and ask them to provide me with something I can post here. I’m also willing to eat my words if I turn out to be wrong, but on a fundamental level I just don’t trust anything the developers are telling us.

    You said “the bridge is more of an asset to the Pierhouse, as it will provide easy access to the Heights.” I disagree. The bridge is a way into the park as much as a way out, and as such it serves not only the entire population of our neighborhood but of our borough, including visitors. And there, I believe, lies one of the main points of conflict that prospective Pierhouse residents would encounter, having sought less democratic surroundings.

    You also mentioned thinking it had started to warp and become more bouncy; I used the bridge almost every day until its closure and simply don’t share that recollection.

    Again, I welcome debate on this. I don’t assume I’m right but it’s also difficult for me to watch everyone take the BBPC’s assertion that there’s something wrong with the structure at face value when I never experienced or heard of any actual problems.

  • StudioBrooklyn

    This response is for you and William Gilbert:

    Look, I’m sensitive to the complaints you raise, I just don’t think it’s fair to attribute them to the bridge.

    First of all, you have no “control group” in determining the causes in any upticks in crime in the north Heights, as I mentioned earlier: the bridge coincided with other developments, whose timing was also affected by super storm Sandy.

    Second, it seems anyone traveling between the northern end of the park and, say, Borough Hall, would use Columbia Heights as their first initial entry into, or final departure from, the neighborhood. Henry at Old Fulton would be another option. So it’s not like without the bridge everyone’s keeping to Cadman Plaza West anyway.

    But again, the main issue here is that this is too unscientific: we don’t have empirical evidence that the bridge was affecting foot traffic through the North Heights, only the opinions of a few residents (including yourselves). I don’t mean to discount this outright, because you might be right, and of course you’re entitled to your aversion to the bridge, but it seems that you are weighing the subjectively-gauged POSSIBILITY that the bridge contributes to misbehavior in the north Heights against the benefits the bridge offers the vast majority of people who manage to use it without being inconsiderate toward the people who live here.

  • Simon

    I crossed that bridge, twice a day, most days it was open. Within 36 hours of it’s closing I was crossing it with two friends. We had crossed about a third of the way when all three of us turned and said, this bridge is failing. And then we ran. It was actually scary. This was in the evening. I called 311 when I got home. I called BBP main office the next morning. 311 took my complaint, BBP didn’t bother (“it’s designed to do that!”)

    I think by the end of that day or early the next morning it had closed. BBP, until this lawsuit, basically told the public it was fine and just being repaired.

    I assumed then and now, that the pile driving for the pierhouse project damaged something. I don’t know. All I know for sure is the BBPC, at every step and at every juncture, has both ignored the public’s complaints and misled the public about financials and physical development.

  • Concerned

    Respectfully SB, you are asking me to cite scientific studies of traffic control in a somewhat straight forward issue, when in this same page you are actually citing unknown engineers in an actual scientific matter of structural engineering. C’mon, buddy. If art doesn’t work out for you, I know a few GOP’ers looking for a VP…