After nearly two decades of effort, a pedestrian bridge will finally connect Van Cortlandt Park across the northern part of the Major Deegan Expressway.
Councilman Andrew Cohen says he’s secured $11.5 million in city funding to make up the balance of the $23.5 million pedestrian bridge not far from where East 233rd Street and Jerome Avenue meet.
Pedestrian bridge advocates pulled together $12 million in funding five years ago from a variety of local and state sources, but ultimately realized they had just half the money they needed.
Cohen, according to a release, was able to insert $11.5 million toward the pedestrian bridge in the city’s new budget, meaning the project can now move forward.
The 220-foot span is planned for an area just off the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail that leads into the Allen Shandler Recreation area just west of Woodlawn Cemetery.
The original plan was to have the bridge completed by 2019, but its close proximity to the aqueduct itself raised alarms with the city’s environmental protection department.
DEP ultimately reduced aqueduct buffer requirements to allow the bridge to move forward, but by then, costs had significantly increased.
In an effort to save a reported $550,000 a year, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority wants to remove printed schedules from bus stops around the city.
If the MTA does do it, however, it will have to get past two Bronx elected officials first.
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and Councilman Andrew Cohen are challenging the cost savings of removing paper schedules from 16,350 stops in the city, saying any savings would not make up for inconveniencing riders who might now be able to access schedules otherwise.
The MTA figures many straphangers now use various apps on their smartphones to access schedules, including a real-time bus schedule app the MTA itself maintains.
Dinowitz and Cohen, however, cite a 2015 city report that shows just 40 percent of adults older than 60 own a mobile phone, while 15 percent of people with incomes less than $31,200 a year don’t have a smartphone.
“At a time when we should be expanding information access to all bus riders — such as adding modernized bus maps and route frequency information — it is very unfortunate that the MTA has decided to eliminate an essential service for many of their customers,” Dinowitz said, in a release.”Not everyone has or wants to use a cell phone to figure out when the bus is supposed to come.”
“To think that every person will be able to pull out a smartphone to figure out when something as important as when the bus should be arriving is not considerate of our community members that do not have access to technology or have the understanding of how to do so,” Cohen said, in a release. “This is not where the MTA should be cutting costs.”