Another way to the waterfront: B’Heights biz leaders demand permanent crossing from Montague to Bridge park

Another way to the waterfront: B’Heights biz leaders demand permanent crossing from Montague to Bridge park
Community News Group / Leah Lu

They want a new bridge to Brooklyn Bridge Park!

The city must build a permanent footbridge from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade at Montague Street leading to the waterfront meadow below in order to serve pedestrians who want to shuffle between the commercial thoroughfare and park during the impending reconstruction of the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway and beyond, said the leader of a local commerce-advocacy group.

“It will increase visibility and foot traffic,” said Kate Chura, the head of the Montague Street Business Improvement District. “Time is ticking and the Department of Transportation needs to know that people want this bridge.”

Transportation-agency officials are already laying the groundwork for a temporary crossing from the promenade to the green space after promising to do so at a 2016 meeting about their repairs to a 1.5-mile stretch of the expressway between Atlantic Avenue and Sands Street, according to a spokeswoman.

Workers are currently exploring the bridge’s engineering feasibility and handicapped accessibility in addition to exactly where it would go and its price tag, she said.

But the business advocates, who claim the promenade end of the shopping strip would be the perfect location for a crossing, are urging the city to make the structure permanent — especially if it is already putting in the work to build a short-term span, Chura said.

“The time is now for them to be factoring in a bridge,” she said. “We have a window. If they don’t do it during design, then it’s not going to happen.”

Park-goers can already reach the East River-facing lawn from Brooklyn Heights via a walkway on Joralemon Street and by traversing the zig-zagging Squibb Bridge, which runs from Squibb Playground in Columbia Heights to the green space and reopened in April after a nearly three-year closure.

In the late-19th and early-20th centuries, locals could stroll across Montague Street via an iron span called the “Pennybridge,” which traversed a sloped section of the road when it ran to the waterfront land now occupied by Brooklyn Bridge Park. The city tore the crossing down in 1946 to make way for the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway, however, and building a new, similar span that leads directly to the park would be the best route between the meadow and the heart of Brooklyn Heights, according to a local business owner, who claimed it would bring more visitors to spend money in the nabe.

“We would like to see that being built in the near future to bring more of the right traffic to the neighborhood,” said Enrico Palazio, who runs the Key Food between Hicks and Henry streets. “Hopefully they could all shop in our businesses and make Montague as great as it once was.”

But until the city figures out how the temporary footbridge will work — whether it would imitate the Squibb Bridge’s construction or require a steeper staircase — the prospect of a permanent span is nothing more than an idea, according to the transportation-department spokeswoman.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Bring it back: The “Pennybridge” once crossed over Montague Street when the road led to the waterfront land now occupied by Brooklyn Bridge Park, and some residents want the city to recreate a similar structure leading directly to the meadow from the promenade-end of the thoroughfare.