THE BRONX — Long-delayed plans to build a pedestrian bridge between the South Bronx and Randall's Island got the green light last month, after the city reached a deal with a developer that controls the Bronx site.
The Randall's Island Connector will be a quarter-mile, landscaped pathway for pedestrians and bicyclists, reaching over a stretch of water known as the Bronx Kill. It will connect a railyard in Port Morris with 400 scenic acres of Randall's Island, officials said.
The New York City Economic Development Corp. had long been sought an easement from Harlem River Yard Ventures, which leases the Bronx site from the state, which is needed in order to start construction on the project.
The Connector was first proposed in 2006 and is just one compenent of the South Bronx Greenway, a larger project meant to increase waterfront access for residents in the Bronx via public parks and pathways.
An EDC spokesman confirmed that an agreement was reached with Harlem River Yard Ventures last month. Bronx newspaper, Mott Haven Herald, reported the deal on Monday. According to the EDC, ground should break on the Connector project in 2013.
Anthony Riccio, senior vice president for Harlem River Yard Ventures, said the group has always been supportive of the Connector plan.
"I've been working on this for almost three and a half years," Riccio said. "It takes that long. Good things don’t come easy."
Riccio declined to comment on specific details of the agreement.
"We worked out the economics of it," he said. "It satisfied the city and it satisfied us."
Harlem River Yard Ventures, a subsidary of the Albany-based developer Galesi Group, leases the portion of Port Morris railyard from the State Department of Transportation. It's the same land where the company FreshDirect plans to build its new headquarters, a project that's been blasted by Bronx advocacy groups who worry that the move will increase air pollution.
Both the EDC and Harlem River Yards said the FreshDirect project will have no effect on plans for the South Bronx Greenway, including the Randall's Island Connector bridge.
“We look forward to continued progress on all of the South Bronx Greenway initiatives which will vastly improve outdoor recreational opportunities for residents of the South Bronx,” EDC spokesman Kyle Sklerov said in a statement.