A section of Brooklyn Bridge Park will close to the public today in advance of a larger rehabilitation project to address what park officials say are “isolated incidents” of debris falling off of the Manhattan Bridge into the park.
The affected area is in the park’s Main Street section, directly beneath the Manhattan Bridge, and includes one of the park’s dog runs, some public pathways, and Dumbo Boulders, a rock climbing wall that opened in 2015.
Last spring, a foot-long chunk of steel fell from the bridge into an area near the climbing wall, prompting its operators to close the popular space for a short period. Though the MTA (which is responsible for the subway infrastructure on the bridge) and the DOT inspected the bridge and determined that it was safe to reopen, the park recently found debris in that particular area once again.
According to Brooklyn Bridge Park president Eric Landau, they have “no way of knowing” how long it has been there, or what the cause of it is at this time. Landau says the MTA performs routine maintenance on the subway infrastructure (during which time the affected parts of the park are blocked off), but it’s unclear if the latest incident was related to that or something else.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we’re closing this section of the park temporarily,” Landau says. “The safety of our visitors is paramount.”
In the coming weeks, the park will install protective scaffolding around the affected area, and it’s due to reopen sometime in April once that work is done. There’s also a sandy beach that will remain closed even after the scaffolding goes up.
But that’s a short-term solution; Landau says that the park is in talks with DOT, MTA, and City Hall to figure out how to address the problem permanently. A spokesperson for the DOT tells Curbed that the agency “continues to work with the MTA and BPP on this specific matter.” (The MTA has not yet responded to a request for comment.)
Brooklyn Bridge Park is also consulting with architects and engineers to figure out a solution that will match the park’s aesthetic. But until then, the scaffolding will remain a fixture.
“Once we know what we’re building, then we’ll know what the design is, and what we’re putting there,” says Landau. “The scaffolding will stay up until we’re ready to begin construction or installation.”
Landau anticipates that the closed section, which is about four-fifths of an acre, will be ready for visitors again before the end of April; until then, park-goers are advised to use other parts of the park, like the dog run at Pier 6.