Bounce in our step: Squibb Park Bridge reopens after 32-month closure

Bounce in our step: Squibb Park Bridge reopens after 32-month closure
Photo by Jordan Rathkopf

You can cross this bridge when you get to it.

The zigzagging overpass from Brooklyn Heights to Brooklyn Bridge Park reopened after 32 months on Wednesday — and one eager local went out of his way to test the goods during his 7:30 am jog, reporting back that it had been everything he’d dreamed of for the nearly three years it had been shuttered.

“It was liberating in one sense that I could run down into the park that way,” said Brooklyn Heights resident Brennan Rees, who is planning to use the Squibb Park Bridge every other day. “It’s going to be a game changer, it’s so pleasant.”

Many residents have been awaiting the reopening of the once dangerously bouncy $4.1 million crossing since it was abruptly closed in August 2014, just 17 months after it opened. Officials ruled the swaying bridge had become unstable and fenced it off, offering little explanation of what had befallen it.

The span juts through the Squibb Park playground at Columbia Heights to the waterfront green space, giving pedestrians a popular shortcut to the meadow. Additionally, it provides people staying at the newly opened One Hotel and Pierhouse condo complex next to it a quick route to the iconic Brooklyn Heights Promenade.

Greensward stewards the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation had initially tapped “genius” bridge creator Ted Zoli and his firm HNTB to execute the big fix. But he was unable to find a solution and the park fired him in January 2016, filing a $3 million lawsuit against his company alleging the crossing was “inherently flawed.” At the same time, they brought on international engineering group Arup to find a way to clean up the mess.

And it was an expensive mess — park honchos estimated the original repairs would cost $700,000 but the final price tag for the overhaul came out to $4,045,000 — a bill that includes the costs of the Arup and HNTB work.

Officials say they will recover most of the cash from the lawsuit, which, like the bridge’s repairs, is dragging on, according to the green space’s veep.

“We’re confident that we’re going to win every lawsuit we’re involved in,” said the park’s vice president of real estate, David Lowin, who is also currently involved in a case over the construction of two towers at Pier 6.

The latest incarnation of the bridge has one-eighth of the bounce than the original span, according to project engineers, and Rees said he didn’t feel much movement at all, although he did get a peek into condo owners’ windows.

But as much as he loves being able to use it, the fix carried on for far too long, he said, and wants to see someone held accountable for the costly and time consuming snafu.

“On the one hand, let’s be grateful the bridge is open,” he said. “But the time it took is just insanely ridiculous, I think somebody’s feet needs to be held to the fire.”

On Wednesday, locals and tourists filled the bridge — and for those enjoying the Squibb without knowing its storied history, it was just a place to take some photos and enjoy the view. One Italian family gushed about the span as they posed for pictures, sizing it up in simple terms.

“It looks wonderful, it’s really cool and fun,” said Alessio Doglione, who was vacationing with his wife and kids.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
A good look: The Squibb Bridge reopened after 32 months.
Photo by Jordan Rathkopf