Condo developer further damages Squibb Bridge, total repairs could cost more than $3M

A bridge too wha? Squibb span still closed after 17 months with no explanation
Photo by Louise Wateridge

They’ve got a bridge repair to sell you.

Brooklyn Bridge Park may have to shell out as much as $3.12 million to fix its long-shuttered Squibb Park Bridge — just $1 million less than it cost to build in the first place — and now a developer erecting condos in the park has done even more damage to the embattled span, park officials say.

Members of the privatively-run park’s board on Wednesday authorized officials to blow the seven-figure amount on mending the wobbly walkway — which connected the Brooklyn Heights Promenade to the waterfront meadow until it became dangerously unstable in August 2014 and they had to fence it off.

And to add injury to insult, developer Toll Brothers — which is building the luxury Pierhouse condominium complex on either side of the springy pathway — hit the bridge with a truck in May and damaged some of its cables, although it is coughing up an additional $790,000 to cover those costs, according to Patricia Kirshner, the park’s vice president of capital planning and construction.

The total price tag probably won’t actually reach $3.12 million, Kirshner claimed, but that is a safe estimate based on subcontractors’ quotes and insurance with some extra cash for any unforeseen costs.

“The board’s limit is a conservative estimate for the cost of the work and BBP anticipates that the final price will be less,” she said.

The park in January fired the $4.1-million zigzagging footpath’s original creator — so-called “genius” engineer Ted Zoli and his company HNTB — for devising an “inherently flawed” design that ultimately failed, then failing to fix it for more than 17 months, and hired rival firm Arup to come up with a way to fix the mess.

The park then hit HNTB with a $3-million lawsuit, which officials say will cover the repair costs — if they win.

Park honchos claimed in February 2015 that the repairs would only cost $700,000, but have now paid Arup $516,000 just to come up with a repair plan — and that is in addition to the millions they just allocated.

Sixteen board members voted to approve the $3.12 million figure at Wednesday’s meeting, with one abstaining — Hank Gutman, who owns a condo in the Pierhouse development and is supposed to recuse himself from all votes it might have a stake in.

And one member was absent from the vote — Councilman Steve Levin (D–Boerum Hill), who has previously scolded park bigwigs for their years-long silence about what was wrong with the bridge and how they expected to pay for the fixes. He was at a Council hearing about a controversial Downtown development.

The park is currently selecting subcontractors for the bridge repairs — which include installing on the bridge and readjusting its cables to stabilize the span — and will name those crews by mid-October, Kirshner said.

The bridge is slated to reopen in spring 2017 — at which point it will have been out of operation for nearly three years.

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