MANHATTAN — The city will spend $100 million to create a new esplanade with a bike path and greenery between East 61st and 53rd streets along the East River, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday.
The project, which is set to begin in 2019 and wrap up in 2022, will introduce a bike lane and ample walking space along the eight waterfront blocks, the Mayor's Office said.
Once completed, the esplanade would fill one of the last remaining gaps in the 32-mile greenway wrapping around Manhattan, officials said.
"We’re jump-starting the completion of a Greenway linking the entire Manhattan waterfront," the mayor said in a statement. "The Hudson River Greenway has vastly improved quality of life on the West Side, and we want families in every corner in the borough to have that same access to bike, walk and play along the water. This is the first of many big investments we’ll make as we bring the full Greenway to reality."
Paul Steely White, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives, applauded the announcement.
"This is tremendously welcome news for anyone who has experienced the inhospitable conditions that cyclists and pedestrians currently face as they attempt to make their way along the East River waterfront," he said in a statement.
"For too long, the East Side has suffered from the lowest ratio of open space to residents and workers in the city."
The earmarked funds in the mayor's Executive Budget include an additional $5 million for a study that would pinpoint ways to close the remaining gaps in the greenway.
The city's Parks Department will create a conceptual design this summer linking the East Side Greenway between 125th and 132nd streets, according to Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver.
The last major section of the waterfront to be developed into a greenway was in Riverside Park on the West Side between West 81st and 91st streets, creating an 11-mile greenway along the Hudson river from the Battery to the George Washington Bridge, officials said.