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Gowanus Canal Needs Bike and Pedestrian Bridge, Business Group Says

 The Gowanus Alliance is floating the idea of building a bike and pedestrian bridge at Fifth Street.
Gowanus Canal Bike and Pedestrian Bridge Proposal
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GOWANUS — They want a bridge over troubled waters.

Business advocacy group Gowanus Alliance is floating the idea of building a bike and pedestrian-only bridge over the Gowanus Canal at Fifth Street.

President Paul Basile says a car-free crossing for cyclists and walkers would be an asset in fast-changing Gowanus, especially after the notoriously polluted canal gets cleaned up and new developments draw thousands more residents.

"The canal obviously is going to get clean at some point and there's a lot of talk about public access," Basile said. "Since we're in the early stages of planning…the cleanup, I think it's something that should be presented to our local and state officials."

Basile is working to gather community support for the bridge idea, and then he plans to approach elected officials about possible funding. There's no design or cost estimate yet for the dream project, but Basile said building the crossing is "feasible."

Five bridges currently cross the Gowanus Canal, but none offer "actual access to the banks of the canal," Basile said. His vision for a Fifth Street bridge includes ramps to the water's edge so kayakers and canoers could easily enter the canal.


The bridge would also have to be high enough for the barges and boats that serve industrial businesses along the canal, said Basile, whose Gowanus Alliance advocates on behalf of manufacturing businesses.

"We're working on a design that would be practical," Basile said.

Right now, Fifth Street dead-ends into the canal. The bridge would connect Second Avenue to Smith Street and could provide another link between Carroll Gardens and Park Slope.

A crossing at Fifth Street would also pass right by the future Gowanus Green, a 774-unit development long planned for Smith and Fifth streets, Basile noted.

With 70 percent of Gowanus Green's units slated to be affordable, many of its residents may work at industrial jobs in the area and use the bridge to commute, Basile said. A few blocks northeast, work is well under way on the Lightstone Group's 700-unit development.

“[There’s a] growing need for public access to the canal,” Basile said. “Hopefully others will see the value of it.”