No more bridging the gap in Coney

No more bridging the gap in Coney
Photo by Steve Solomonson

The city is burning its bridges — or at least the pedestrian walkway connecting the W. Eight Street train station to the Coney Island Boardwalk.

Citing safety concerns and the structure’s unsightliness, the New York City Economic Development Corporation — the agency responsible for promoting business and tourism — plans to dismantle the walkway over Surf Avenue and the New York Aquarium parking lot at a yet-to-be-unspecified date this summer. An agency spokesman called the half-century-old bridge an eyesore, and said that it was likely to become unstable in the next few years.

In an effort to keep crossing Surf Avenue easy, the spokesman said that the city will broaden the sidewalks, install a crossing light at the intersection of W. Eighth Street, and create a new entrance to the Boardwalk at W. 10th Street.

Community Board 13 district manager Chuck Reichenthal applauded the news, saying that the neighborhood panel has begged the city for years to tear down the deteriorating walkway. The bridge — originally built 50 years ago to convey people from the F-Q stop to the then-new aquarium — has long been an orphan, with the MTA, the aquarium, and the Parks Department all denying responsibility for maintaining it.

“It started looking like hell 15 years ago,” said Reichenthal. “It has to go.”

But not all community leaders are pleased to see the bridge fall. Todd Dobrin, president of promenade advocacy group Friends of the Boardwalk — and a candidate to replace term-limited Councilman Domenic Recchia (D–Coney Island) — argued the bridge is necessary to keep children and the elderly out of danger while crossing busy Surf Avenue.

“It’s a safe gateway into Coney Island and directly onto the Boardwalk,” said Dobrin. “What about all those kids who come here on field trips, and the old people?”

Dobrin offered to have his organization take over the structure’s upkeep, but admitted that Friends of the Boardwalk does not currently have the funding to pay for the maintenance, and would need grants.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.