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UES Running Routines Disrupted by East River Esplanade Sinkhole Repair

By Shaye Weaver | December 6, 2016 4:57pm
 Runners have to find a new way to get to East Harlem because of construction blocking their way.
East River Esplanade Running Path Cut Short
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YORKVILLE —  Joggers running along the East River through Carl Schurz Park have recently discovered the path that had previously led all the way north into Harlem now comes to a dead end.

A chain link fence stretching from 89th to 96th streets completely closing off the East River Esplanade to pedestrians was erected on Nov. 14 — and the fence will remain there until at least Dec. 23, according to the Parks Department.

Officials said the reason for the closure is that crews need to fix a a 20-foot-by-10-foot sinkhole, according to Parks Department spokeswoman Crystal Howard.

But joggers in the neighborhood — who previously relied on the area and its jogging path, John Finley Way, to run along the East River Esplanade all the way up to 125th Street, said they were given no notice of the imminent change.

"It's annoying. I didn't know this was happening today, now I can't exercise [like I usually do]," said 45-year-old Frank Orlowski. "Now I'll have to schlep all the way to Central Park. There's no way I can get over to East Harlem."

Those who want to get up to East Harlem or down to the Upper East Side are directed to use pedestrian exits at 89th and 96th streets.

Runner Ella Ott, 24, ran as far as she could to where the closure starts and turned around as she has for the few weeks its been closed. She typically runs from her home on 87th and York to Randall's Island and back, which is about 5 miles.

"I've had to totally change my route," she said. "Now I come down and do couple loops here. I don't like running on the street because there are stops."

Matt Lundy, 34, who runs the esplanade regularly when visiting family on the Upper East Side said his route was cut short by about 20 minutes on Friday. "Now I'll have to head back down through the park and improvise it."

Parks Department officials said crews have to excavate the walking path to find the cause of the sinkhole, which they found 9 feet below the top of the pavement, and shore it up. After that, the department will fill in the hole, Howard said.

The repair work is being done as part of the Parks Department's East River Esplanade project, which will use $41 million in capital funds to repair walkways along the waterfront.

It wasn't immediately clear which areas of the esplanade these initial funds covered, but the agency has requested an additional $169 million for the next few years to bring the rest of the esplanade to an "average state of good repair," Howard said.