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Advocates to Rally for Bike and Pedestrian Path on Verrazano Bridge

By Nicholas Rizzi | October 14, 2014 2:43pm
 Advocates will rally near the Verrazano-Narrow Bridge to call on the MTA to allocate funds for a pedestrian/bike path in their capital plan.
Advocates will rally near the Verrazano-Narrow Bridge to call on the MTA to allocate funds for a pedestrian/bike path in their capital plan.
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Flickr/S. Nirza

ROSEBANK — Advocates plan to rally near the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge on Saturday to call on the MTA to add a bicycle and pedestrian path to its five year capital plan.

Harbor Ring, a group started by volunteers from pedestrian and cyclist advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, will host the 11 a.m. rally at Alice Austen House Park to call on the MTA to fund the path.

"It's a relatively cheap and landmark investment into Staten Island's transportation capacity," said Meredith Sladek, one of the organizers of the rally.

"There's a lot of investment right now [in Staten Island] and people need, and deserve, an option about how to get around the borough."

The group estimates it'll cost $40 million for the MTA to put in the walkway, based on numbers from a 1997 City Planning review study of it that has been adjusted to reflect inflation.

Aside from adding the path into the capital plan, advocates are also calling on the MTA to host public information sessions about a feasibility study into the path.

In December, the MTA awarded a $2.7 million, three-year contract to engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff to study its ability to add a pedestrian and bike path to the bridge, a spokeswoman for the agency said.

The study will also examine the feasibility of rehabilitating the bridge's ramps.

The agency said the study is in the early stages, and the finding will be shared "at the appropriate time."

Advocates say they want to make sure the MTA hosts information sessions in Staten Island and Brooklyn about it before making a final decision.

"We want to make sure that the public has the ability to know what's going on and be able to provide their input," Sladek said.

Harbor Ring, which started in 2012, launched its mission to increase bikeways and walkways by creating a proposed continuous route that would connect the waterfronts of Staten Island, Manhattan, Brooklyn and parts of New Jersey.

Since then, they've been pushing to make that dream a reality, which means pushing for the bike path over the Verrazano Bridge. A petition they started in 2013 for the bridge plan had already garnered over 3,000 signatures as of Tuesday, they said.

Sladek said it's important to move ahead with the Verrazano plan so people can get off the borough by foot in case of an emergency — especially with the Bayonne Bridge pedestrian walkway closed while it undergoes reconstruction.

"It's a very present and worrying concern that right now there is no walkable way on and off Staten Island," Sladek said. "If all other options fail, we should be able to walk to the rest of the city."