DOT Concept Turns Brooklyn Bridge into Times Square in the Sky

By Wayne Sheppard

For many cyclists and pedestrians, traveling across the Brooklyn Bridge is far from pleasant. Squeezing onto a ten-foot-wide (17 feet at its widest) elevated path intended for shared use may no longer be viable as the bridge becomes a destination and not just a piece of infrastructure. The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) is looking into creating an expanded pathway that accommodates more foot traffic, for a project dubbed a “Times Square in the Sky.”

The plan looks to widen the pathway used by non-vehicle travelers on the bridge. As its name suggests, the project acknowledges the bridge’s role as a place to visit as many tourists stop to take photos of the great views, as well as the structure itself. The bridge is also uses as a place for sitting, talking, performing, as well as selling and buying goods. DOT notes that the bridges narrowest point is also a hotspot for picture taking.

The DOT suggests a central bike path, protected by railing or barriers to create bicycle lanes going in each direction with pedestrian walkways on each side. This would take advantage of the un-used space between the two towers. As for the approaches to the bridge, two options have been are being discussed: A short range plan to “reallocate existing even split between bikes and pedestrians to 10 feet for pedestrians and 7 feet for bikes” and a “seasonal fence to reduce conflicts,” as well as a long range plan to build elevated cantilevered walking spaces.

Pinch points around the staircases are also targeted for remediation. Controls and crossings to manage speed and different uses would be located at the Brooklyn end, while the DOT would “explore the feasibility of closing and covering the stairway” on the Manhattan side.

For now, the DOT’s next course of action is to go ahead with a study, running through to February of next year and to be carried out by AECOM. This will include structural analysis, design development, historical preservation study, and a cost estimate.