Three years after it initially closed for repairs, Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Squibb Park Bridge is, as of this morning, open to the public once again. And even though its distinctive bounce was part of the reason it closed in the first place, it hasn’t been lost entirely.
Engineering firm Arup was brought on to implement structural fixes to the zig-zagging bridge, which initially opened in 2013 but became unstable not too long after. “It was deforming slowly over time,” says David Farnsworth, a principal at Arup who spearheaded the bridge rehabilitation. “We did a number of modifications to increase the stability of the structure.”
Those included fixing a truss-like structure beneath the bridge, which made it more stable, and adding tuned mass dampers, which decreased the bounciness. “It’s about an eighth as bouncy as it was before,” Farnsworth notes, though you can still feel some springiness when you’re standing in the middle of the bridge.
The project has received its share of criticism over the years, first due to its cost—$4.1 million to construct initially—and then for the delays in fixing and reopening the bridge. Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation ended up filing a $3 million lawsuit against HNTB Corporation, the bridge’s original designers, over its flawed design and execution; that lawsuit is still ongoing.
Though BBPC initially estimated that the bridge would cost $3.12 million to fix (in addition to the nearly $1 million in repairs executed by HNTB, along with about $600,000 for Arup’s initial review and planning), the total cost came in at $2.5 million—no small potatoes, but still less than anticipated.
And David Lowin, the vice president of the BBPC, has a positive outlook on the situation. “The most important thing is safety, and however long it takes to make sure safety was achieved, it’s worth it,” he explains. “We’ve wound up with results we’re all proud of and we can all feel comfortable with, and that’s the most important thing.”