LOWER MANHATTAN — The city has revealed its latest designs for the long-awaited West Thames pedestrian bridge.
The 240-foot pedestrian bridge, which will diagonally span busy West Street at West Thames Street has a “a fairly elegant, flowing design…with a light and airy feel,” said Matthew Best, a program manager from the mayor’s office, during a Community Board 1 meeting earlier this week.
The more than $20 million project, slated to begin construction in November, has been in the works for several years.
The “George Washington Bridge grey” metal and glass concept is similar to a preliminary design by SHoP architects unveiled in 2009. The latest model, however, was created by a new team, WXY Architecture and engineering firm Weidlinger Associates.
The new design, though, also comes without wheelchair accessible ramps.
Because of major space and cost constraints, the team decided to go ahead with a plan for outdoor elevators and stairs on either side of the bridge, without long ramps, Best said.
Residents have long had an issue with the outdoor elevators that sit outside the temporary footbridge at Rector Street, which have frequently broken down over the years, they said.
With thousands of people expected to use the new footbridge everyday, several community board members felt the elevators wouldn’t be enough to accommodate the masses.
“I’m for ramps,” said CB1 member Tammy Meltzer. "With that amount of people, many with strollers or those with disabilities, its seems like ramps make sense.”
Best said the decision to remove the ramps came with months of review, but if there was a "large howl and cry" from the community, the final designs are still up for tweaking.
The design for the bridge still must be approved by city’s Public Design Commission.
The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation is set to contribute the bulk of the funding for the project, with the BCPA expected to kick in an additional $7 million.
The bridge is slated to open in 2015.