‘Walkable city’ proves it’s un-walkable in some parts


New York City is often described as walkable, but in one Riverdale intersection that title does not feel accurate to some.

The south sidewalk of the Henry Hudson Parkway overpass at West 232nd Street has been blocked off for several months, leaving pedestrians to brave the road.

The reason for the blockage is construction materials and equipment have been stored on the overpass while contractors hired from the state transportation department build a new bike lane.

Matthew Cohen, a resident in the area who was walking on the road beside the barred off sidewalk, told The Press he has had very close calls when trying to cross the street.

“It’s very hazardous walking around here while this construction is up,” Cohen said. “The cars, of course, don’t help. They’re not considerate either. And if you go on the other side, try crossing those cars that are making the left turn, half the time they don’t even see you, especially at night.”

Dagmar Hillel, a resident who grew up in the area and walks through the neighborhood frequently, described the pathway as inaccessible.

“Every piece of ad copy says Riverdale is walkable,” Hillel said. “OK, where are the sidewalks? I’d like to know. I don’t have a car. I don’t see sidewalks. The roadwork makes things very inaccessible and rarely leads to significant improvements within a timeframe that I would consider acceptable as someone who is a pedestrian.”

Another resident in the area, Matt Heenan, said workers told him the project would be finished in the fall of last year.

“I’ve got kids and that intersection, it’s very tight for cars turning into that section now,” Heenan said. “You often see cars cutting over the footpath a little bit. So it’s just not a safe environment. The road’s too narrow. It’s been going on too long.”

In addition to the sidewalk, the construction has also affected parking during street sweeping days and rerouted the local bus stop. While the Metro North shuttle remains unaffected, the MTA bus stop was moved one black away at West 232nd Street and Independence Avenue.

One resident in the area, David Howarth, described how the relocation created “crazy” car and foot traffic issues.

“It’s like this crazy blind curve,” he said. “You have city buses, both the local and the larger ones, come like barreling down the road. They take up both lanes, so it backs up traffic every time they turn.”

There’s potential good news for those who have been unable to use the sidewalk. Community Board 8 called for the state transportation department to request its contractors remove the equipment and materials being stored on the sidewalk.

Neither the department nor CB8 responded to a request for further comment at press time.

During the board’s traffic and transportation committee in March, members discussed the issue with state transportation representative Susan McClellan, who told the committee the heavy construction the contractor is doing necessitated storing materials on the sidewalk.

“He has quite a bit of material that’s needed,” McClellan said. “It’s very difficult for him to maneuver, so, for the safety of the working conditions and the safety of the site, the contractor is using that sidewalk.”

But some questioned if construction material really had to be stored there. Former CB8 board chair Rosemary Ginty, who urged the board to request the contractor remove the materials, said the equipment is not being used for anything remotely resembling construction.

“There is a tarp thrown over something (and) covered with dust, which means it has been like that for months,” Ginty said. “Nobody knows what’s under there, nobody is using it. Then there are some barrels, (which) can be stored any place until they’re needed.”

When The Press visited the site, there were several barrels, cones, sandbags, signs and materials wrapped in tarps.

CB8 board member Christopher Calhoun said the stored equipment is taking precedent over people.

“People are forced out on the street and everything sitting on the south side of (West) 232nd Street overpass is just sitting desolate and not used,” Calhoun said. “What I don’t understand is why can’t this be in some sort of storage facility somewhere and then when it’s needed bring it out.”


Riverdale, Henry Hudson Parkway, pedestrian safety, construction, sidewalk blockage, accessibility, New York City, transportation department, community board, pedestrian concerns, roadwork, pedestrian safety hazards