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Brooklyn Bridge, perennially packed, could get an expansion

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A forthcoming study of the iconic landmark seeks to find a solution to overcrowding on the bridge

It may be one of the most picturesque landmarks in the five boroughs, but the Brooklyn Bridge is unquestionably also one of the most difficult crossings to navigate. The shared pathway on the bridge’s upper level is, frankly, a nightmare—there’s barely enough room for the pedestrians or cyclists who use it, and frequent construction often means what little space is available has been compromised.

But that may be amended in the future: The New York Times reports that the Department of Transportation has tapped the firm AECOM to conduct a seven-month study of the bridge (to the tune of $370,000), with the goal of determining whether it could support an expansion of the pedestrian pathway. According to the DOT, this could potentially be accomplished by "widening the existing promenade by building decks on top of the girders that run directly above the car lanes."

The number of people who use the bridge has grown exponentially in the past few years: Per the Times, "An average of 1,917 people an hour crossed at peak times in 2015, or more than triple the 511 people in 2008. Weeknight traffic increased to an average of 1,057 people an hour at peak times from 880 people in 2008." The number of cyclists who use the bridge has also grown, making the idea of an expansion seem all the more attractive.

But Polly Trottenberg, the DOT commissioner, said that the study was simply the first step in determining how the bridge could be made more accessible—in part, because "every time we touch this 133-year-old bridge, it tends to be costly and complex," she explained.

Update: The Times also produced a short video explaining why these changes are so necessary: