Bridge Park fires, sues Squibb Bridge creator

Work site: The Squibb Park Bridge runs through the still-under-construction Pierhouse development in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Photo by Louise Wateridge

Brooklyn Bridge Park has fired the engineering company behind the long-shuttered Squibb Park Bridge — Brooklyn’s own “Gallopin’ Gertie” — and is suing the firm to cover the costs of redesigning and repairing the bouncy span.

Park operators filed a $3-million suit against design and engineering firm HNTB on Friday morning, claiming the company created an “inherently flawed” design that became “unstable” and “deformed,” then failed to fix it for more than 17 months.

“As a result of HNTB’s contractual and professional failures, the bridge had to be closed and repaired, at great cost to BBP and the public,” the suit reads.

The park opened the taxpayer-funded pathway — which connects Brooklyn’s Front Yard and the Brooklyn Heights Promenade — in March 2013, but fenced it off in August 2014 after it allegedly became unstable.

Officials initially said the span — designed by famed engineer Ted Zoli — would be back in action in spring 2015, but repeatedly pushed back the opening date while neighbors became frustrated by the delays and the park’s refusal to explain what was wrong and when it would return.

Park honchos finally shed some light on the situation when announcing the suit at a board meeting on Friday morning.

The corporation has now promoted Arup Group — the engineering firm that was initially hired to review the bridge — to take over the repairs in conjunction with the city’s transportation department, said park bigwig Regina Myer.

It will take another six months for Arup to draw up its proposal to resuscitate the footbridge, and the board will then have to vote on the new plans before work can begin, Myer said. The new repairs are expected to cost $516,000.

But one local pol demanded more answers about what went wrong and when the bridge will return, slamming the corporation for its lack of transparency over the past year and a half.

“This community amenity is still closed and there is not a clear path to reopening it,” said state Sen. Daniel Squadron (D–Brooklyn Heights), who has been pushing the park to offer answers for months. “The lack of transparency over the time that this is outlined is also disturbing. It is critical we get assurance that this will change.”

Myer claimed the semi-private park body cannot release more details due to the lawsuit, but said it will issue a report on the steps taken to ensure the bridge is safe upon its reopening.

HNTB is one of the engineers behind the new Kosciuszko, Tappan Zee, and Goethals bridges.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill

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