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6 Blocks of East River Esplanade Closed for Repairs Until March

By Shaye Weaver | February 15, 2017 1:46pm
 A rendering of Rockefeller University's River Campus, with the esplanade below.
A rendering of Rockefeller University's River Campus, with the esplanade below.
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Rockefeller University

UPPER EAST SIDE — A six-block stretch of the East River Esplanade from 63rd to 68th streets will be closed through the end of March for repairs, according to officials.

Rockefeller University has been doing construction along the strip since Summer 2015 to expand its campus with a new research building and to rehab the portion of the esplanade adjacent to the site.

That part of the greenway has so far been open to the public while work is going on, but was closed off on Monday after the project's marine engineer found the infrastructure that drains water from the FDR Drive and the esplanade was in "significant disrepair," according to Katherine Fenz, a spokeswoman for the university.

The pipes in the drainage system, known as outfalls, were broken, disintegrated or missing and need to be fully rebuilt, Fenz said.

The esplanade above it won't likely reopen until March 31, allowing for enough time to complete the work during the winter months when traffic on the path is slow, she added.

"We are working closely with the Parks Department to ensure the repairs are completed as efficiently as possible," she said in an email. "The drainage system would have required attention in the near future regardless of Rockefeller’s construction activities."

Work on the outfalls will cost the school $2 million, and other improvements to the esplanade will include repairing the waterfront's seawall as well as new landscaping, seating, lighting, a designated bike lane and noise barrier, according to Fenz.

The upgrades are part of a larger project to build Rockefeller University's new Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Research Building, which is expected to be two stories high and extend nearly three city blocks from mid-block between 63rd and 64th streets to 68th Street.

The 135,600 square-foot building will make enough room for 600 science personnel, officials said.

The total cost of the project is $500 million, according to the school's plans posted on its website.

The building is expected to be completed by 2019, and the esplanade improvements are slated to wrap up by 2018, according to Fenz.

► READ: Rockefeller University Plan to Build Lab Over FDR Approved by City Council

READ: Butterfly Habitat Among Features of 70th Street East River Esplanade Plan