HIGHBRIDGE — Manhattan and The Bronx will soon be closer than ever.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined other city officials in front of a packed crowd of students at Highbridge Park in The Bronx to announce the groundbreaking.
"Generations of kids who grew up in the Bronx Highbridge neighborhood have been cut off from Manhattan's Highbridge Park," Bloomberg said. "I'm happy to say those days will soon be over."
The $61 million project, which is expected to be completed by September 2014, will rehabilitate the badly decaying High Bridge. The 116-year-old bridge, which will be open to pedestrians and cyclists, has been closed to the public for more than 40 years.
The bridge is the most high profile in a series of renovations around the Highbridge parks. In Manhattan, City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez has contributed almost $3 million in funding for renovations to the park's recreational center, ball fields and basketball courts.
"We'd like to see some cafes set up," said Russell Murphy, a Rodriguez spokesman. "We'd like to see this turn into a destination in Washington Heights."
Congressman Jose Serrano, whom Bloomberg thanked for securing federal funds for the project, had his own idea for after the bridge opens.
Serrano said, "I think it's time for the first High Bridge 5K race."