PORT MORRIS — Getting from Randall's Island to the South Bronx is about to get much easier.
After years of waiting, the Randall's Island Connector is now finally set to open on Nov. 14 at 11 a.m., providing Bronxites direct access to an island with fishing sites, picnic areas and fields for sports like football and cricket.
"This long awaited project will open up a safe, direct way for Bronxites to access Randall's Island,” Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said in a statement. “I am proud to have supported its construction, and I encourage all Bronxites to take a trip to explore this tremendous new amenity.”
The Randall's Island Connector is a quarter-mile long pathway meant for pedestrians and bikers. It links the borough to the island at 132nd Street, running south over the Bronx Kill and under the existing Amtrak trestle.
The New York City Economic Development Corporation initially announced its plans for the connector almost a decade ago.
Officials originally hoped to complete the pathway by early 2015 but had to spend the past several months testing it to make sure that it was completely safe for people to use, according to EDC spokesman Ian Fried.
The connector didn't happen by itself. Harry Bubbins, a member of the environmental group South Bronx Unite, said it was result of about 20 years of advocacy, and he did not believe it was a coincidence that it was finally opening now that the South Bronx real estate market is heating up.
"It’s no coincidence that now it’s happening when the fast track of gentrification is occurring," he said, "but at least the existing community will have an important resource to connect to Randall’s Island."
New Yorkers for Parks has been a staunch advocate for improving access to green space in the South Bronx through Randall’s Island, and the group's executive director Tupper Thomas said she was happy to see the connector finally open — although she wishes it was a little easier for people to get to.
“There’s simply not even close to enough open space for the people in the South Bronx and Mott Haven,” she said, “so to have this access will make a big difference.”
This is not the only long-awaited connector to open in The Bronx this year, as the High Bridge reopened to the public in June, linking Washington Heights in Manhattan with High Bridge in The Bronx after being closed for more than 40 years.
Michael Brady, director of special projects at the economic development group SoBRO, said he was extremely happy about the opening of the connector and hoped it could help make The Bronx a healthier place.
"I'm thrilled that the connector is going to finally open," he said, "and it certainly provides an access point so that Bronxites can enjoy parkland and moves us a step closer to having equitable parkland distribution in the borough."