The Eagle reports that the Montague Street Business Improvement District wants a footbridge to connect the Promenade near the foot of Montague Street (photo) to Brooklyn Bridge Park. The BID says this is necessary to provide access to the Park during the time the needed repairs to the cantilevered portion of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway below the Promenade are being done, as this will affect access to the Park through other entrances. According to the Eagle story, the BID envisions the footbridge as resembling the “Penny Bridge” (see photo in the story linked above) that used to allow pedestrians to cross Montague Street, when it extended steeply downhill to the level of the then docks, before the construction of the BQE and the Promenade.
What puzzles your correspondent is how a footbridge, by itself, could allow pedestrians to get to or from the Park from the level of the Promenade, which I believe is about an eighty foot vertical distance. Nothing that looks at all like the little Penny Bridge could do this. The bridge would have to connect to a very long staircase (more steps than many people could easily manage), or escalator (prone to breakdowns), or — and this is the only way it could meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act — a tower with elevators. To meet the anticipated summer traffic volume, this would probably require two or even three elevators the size of those at the Clark Street subway station, and the tower could impinge on the protected view plane from the Promenade. The footbridge that does connect to the Park — the “Bouncy Bridge”– does so by starting from Squibb Park, which is below the level of the BQE, and executing a zig-zag. A footbridge from the level of the Promenade would have to go through several zig-zags between there and the Park to be easily walkable; it’s hard to see how this could be executed without creating a structure so massive that it would negatively affect views from the Promenade.
I also wonder what significant impediment to Park access will be caused by the BQE repair work. Neither the Squibb Park, or Old Fulton/Furman Street entrances could be affected by it, and it seems unlikely to me to affect the Atlantic Avenue entrance, as it is south of where the cantilevered portion of the BQE begins. The Joralemon Street entrance could be affected, at least for a period of time less than required to complete the entire project. This is likely also to bar auto traffic on Joralemon from going to or from Furman Street during that time.
DISCLOSURE: I live on Montague. The concerns I’ve expressed above relate only to the technical difficulties I perceive with the proposal; not from fear of excessive pedestrian traffic on Montague (my windows face Pierrepont Place, so we already get the mostly cheerful noise from the playground, and the tour guide who stops his group in front of 3 Pierrepont Place to enlighten them about Seth Low, and at whom my historian wife occasionally yells at out the window, “No, Robert Moses did NOT build that playground!”).