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DOT Set to Install New East 78th Street Pedestrian Bridge Over FDR

By Amy Zimmer | October 20, 2011 6:52pm
The DOT will be installing a replacement pedestrian bridge at East 78th Street on Oct. 23.
The DOT will be installing a replacement pedestrian bridge at East 78th Street on Oct. 23.
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DNAinfo/Amy Zimmer

UPPER EAST SIDE — Runners, dog walkers, cyclists, stroller pushers and other park enthusiasts will  have to wait a little longer before they get a big chunk of the East River waterfront back.

The Department of Transportation is slated to install a replacement for the East 78th Street pedestrian bridge over the FDR Drive this weekend after delays on the $11.9 million project have kept the esplanade from East 76th to 78th street closed since last October.

"Existing pedestrian and bicycle detours will remain in effect until all work on the bridge and adjacent ramps is completed later this year," DOT officials said Thursday.

The agency had originally expected that replacing the decrepit walkway — among the three worst city bridges — would be completed by August.  But when the existing bridge was removed in July, the agency announced the project would take longer than anticipated.

Rather than reconstruct the bridge on site, the replacement bridge was built in Camden, N.J. and then brought here by barge. The new span, which will connects the Upper East Side to the waterfront, will be hoisted by crane from the barge this weekend.

The DOT warned drivers to find alternate routes along the FDR Drive. The southbound roadway between East 116th and 73rd streets and the northbound roadway between East 61st and 96th streets will see one- and two-lane closures from Saturday at 11 p.m. until 2 a.m. Sunday. The lanes will then be fully closed until 7 a.m. for the project.

DOT community liaison Deborah Howes had told DNAinfo that it was a "challenging" site.

"The contractor has been working well within constraints," she said. "Work has to be done at night. We don't want to close the FDR Drive during the day. It's a very busy highway."

For the past year, people trying to access the waterfront have been redirected to entrances at East 71st or 81st streets, causing much consternation among waterfront users.