PORT MORRIS — The South Bronx is just months away from having easier access to Randall's Island.
A quarter-mile bike and pedestrian pathway that will connect the island to the South Bronx is on track to be completed early in 2015, according to the New York City Economic Development Corporation, bringing much-needed access to greenspace to the area.
The pathway will link the island to the borough at 132nd Street, running south under the existing Amtrak trestle and over the Bronx Kill, officials said. It's part of the $48 million South Bronx Greenway, which is designed to connect residents to the waterfront.
Bronx residents who want to walk to Randall's Island currently have to use the Triborough Bridge, or the pedestrian bridge at 103rd Street in Manhattan.
Work on the Bronx bridge project, which began earlier this year, has progressed smoothly so far with no major hurdles, according to the EDC. The EDC announced last fall that it had gotten rights to build the pathway, known as the Randall's Island Connector, seven years after initially announcing its plans.
"The Randall's Island Connector will provide South Bronx residents and visitors with new opportunities on the waterfront and bring them closer to the many amenities offered on Randall's Island," said EDC spokesman Ian Fried in a statement.
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Cedric Loftin, district manager of Bronx Community Board 1, which includes the Port Morris and Mott Haven neighborhoods, said he was excited about the chance for residents to have better access to Randall's Island.
"The Community Board has been engaged in this process since its inception with the city," he said. "We will be very pleased to see it open up and create an opportunity for people to traverse between our district and Randall’s Island by foot and also by bicycle."
Randall's Island includes picnic areas, fishing sites and 66 fields for sports ranging from football to cricket. The island is also home to live events and performances including the Governor's Ball Music Festival.
The advocacy group New Yorkers for Parks recently put out a report criticizing the parks and open spaces in Mott Haven, describing them as containing worn and dated equipment, as well as lacking trees and landscaping that would help attract visitors.
One of the report's recommendations for improving open space in the community was to take advantage of Randall's Island, and Executive Director Tupper Thomas was happy with the progress of the pathway.
"I think this is a very important first step toward giving the people of Mott Haven and Hunts Point much more access to really great open space," she said.
However, the group's report cautions that several Mott Haven residents will still have a long walk to Randall's Island because the bridge is located in an industrial area several blocks from the nearest subway.
The Randall's Island Park Alliance has been preparing for the park to become more accessible from the Bronx by building pathways along the water for cyclists and pedestrians.
The group is currently working on pathways along the island's Bronx shoreline and anticipates opening them in the spring of 2015.
"Those we'll actually be building at about the same time as the connector, so it’s very timely," said Alliance President Aimee Boden.