New York City Mayor Eric Adams, New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez.
New York City Department of Parks & Recreation (NYC Parks) Commissioner Sue Donoghue, and New York City Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Andrew Kimball today announced a groundbreaking plan to deliver a critical public space to a community too often left behind by expanding the Harlem River Greenway to the Bronx.
Greenways are shared, linear spaces on public land, available for recreational uses like cycling, running, or walking. Beginning on April 18, 2023, the Adams administration will conduct public engagement and craft a plan for the new greenway. The route will span seven miles, connecting Randall’s Island at the southern tip of the Bronx to Van Cortlandt Park in the north, with continuous cycling and walking, including a critical north-south bike commuting corridor. The project represents a major new front in the administration’s nation-leading effort to reconnect communities divided by highways, focusing on the Major Deegan Expressway, which has cut off Bronxites’ access to the Harlem River waterfront since the 1930s.
“This administration continues to deliver for all five boroughs, and expanding the Harlem River Greenway to the Bronx is a huge win for equity and justice,” said Mayor Adams. “Our administration is leading the way in undoing the devastation caused by highways like the Cross-Bronx Expressway, the BQE, and now the Deegan — reversing the devastation left by others in communities of color. Greenways help us move forward while righting the wrongs of the past, give people a place where they can exercise and breathe freely, and create a sense of community by bringing people together. That’s what the Bronx deserves and what this project will deliver.”
“Historic disinvestment and highway construction has, for decades, severed Bronxites’ connection to their waterfront. This administration is centering equity in all its work — and that means ensuring communities in the Bronx have safe cycling connections and pedestrian access to and along the Harlem River shoreline, one of the city’s most beautiful natural landscapes,” said DOT Commissioner Rodriguez. “We look forward to working with Bronxites and our sister agencies in shaping this project as we continue work on our larger greenway development plans.”
“We believe that all New Yorkers deserve access to our city’s beautiful public parkland, and greenways often serve as critical connectors to our parks, waterfronts, and greenspaces,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Donoghue. “We are excited to work with our sister agencies to expand the city’s greenway network — including and especially in the outer boroughs — so we can strengthen the connections between parks and increase recreational opportunities for all New Yorkers.”
“Access to green and open spaces and safe biking infrastructure is vital to New Yorkers’ quality of life, and the Bronx Harlem River Greenway is a critical component to better connecting New Yorkers to our waterfront,” said NYCEDC President and CEO Kimball. “The Bronx Harlem River Greenway aligns with NYCEDC’s commitment to driving our city’s economic vitality and making New York City an even better place to live, work, and play. I look forward to working with Mayor Adams, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Parks & Recreation, and the community to make this vision a reality.”
The expanded Harlem River Greenway will restore Bronxites’ access to the waterfront with a network of off-street, multi-use, shared paths along the waterfront, as well as on-street bicycle facilities that will allow for safe and convenient travel along and around the river. The administration will identify high-priority, quick-build street redesigns to support larger projects, and the implementation plan developed through community engagement will include both short-term and long-term projects on identified preferred routes. Short-term projects will include the installation of markings, signs, and limited concrete work on city streets. Long-term projects will include more complex improvements to be constructed as future capital projects.
The community engagement process, launching next month, will outline a comprehensive strategy to create a continuous and accessible path along this corridor. At this first round of public workshops — with one workshop for each of the three segments of the planned greenway — DOT planners will discuss existing conditions along the waterfront and seek input from residents on how they would like to use this space through bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure upgrades. The agency will follow up with an additional round of public workshops this fall before an implementation plan will be published in 2024. DOT will also engage community members at pop-up events throughout the spring and summer, including at “Bike the Block” and “Car-Free Earth Day” events.
Community outreach will be conducted in partnership with the Bronx and Harlem River Urban Waters Federal Partnership and the New York-New Jersey Harbor and Estuary Program, which work to help reconnect community residents to their waterways. DOT is also collaborating with the Bronx Center for Environmental Quality and the Harlem River Working Group, which have long advocated for improving environmental quality and access to and along the Harlem River.
The expansion of the Harlem River Greenway follows the Adams administration’s receipt of a $7.25 million federal grant award to plan the city’s next generation of greenways, with a focus on expanding the network to historically underserved communities.
“Expanding equity of waterfront access is a key goal of our Comprehensive Waterfront Plan,” said New York City Department of City Planning Executive Director Edith Hsu-Chen. “This much-needed greenway extension will link more New Yorkers with their shoreline and lead to a healthier, more connected city for all.”
“I proudly helped secure the historic federal RAISE grant to expand the biking and walking greenway network across the five boroughs. The funding creates exciting new green spaces, like the expansion of the Harlem River Greenway to the Bronx, to extend access to affordable transportation for pedestrians and cyclists in underserved communities,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “This plan to restore waterfront access and provide public space for Bronxites shows Mayor Adams’s commitment to expand the greenway network to make New York City safer, cleaner, greener, and more healthy for all.”
“I am proud to have recently helped secure federal funds to plan the expansion of greenways throughout New York City, and I applaud the Adams administration for prioritizing the expansion of the Harlem River Greenway,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “Today’s announcement represents an important step towards addressing the harm caused by the Major Deegan Expressway, while also ensuring greater access and safety for pedestrians and cyclists along the waterfront. I look forward to the results of the community engagement process and will continue to fight for this important project at the federal level.”
“The Harlem River Greenway is a tremendous priority project that will bring new open space, waterfront access, and a renewed seawall to the communities across New York City, from East Harlem to Inwood to the Bronx,” said U.S. Representative Adriano Espaillat. “During my inaugural environmental justice tour, the need to revitalize the Harlem River Greenway was emphasized by every level of government and all members of the EPA’s Bronx and Harlem River Federal partnership program. I was proud to help secure $7.25 million to supercharge the Harlem River Greenway and am grateful to Mayor Adams and DOT Commissioner Rodriguez for moving forward on an equity project that will benefit the quality of life of New York City residents, families, and visitors for years to come.”
“We can never go back in time to reverse the systemic harm caused by the construction of highways that divided entire communities — like the Bronx — and forever changed their trajectory,” said U.S. Representative Ritchie Torres. “But we can be intentional about how we move forward to reconnect these communities in a way that enriches their surroundings, creates vital greenspaces, and improves the quality of life for people who live there. I’m encouraged to see a plan from the city moving forward that promises to provide new and improved access to the waterfront for Bronxites for the first time in decades while offering safe and convenient recreational and transportation opportunities. My gratitude to all involved for making it happen.”
“The Harlem River Greenway will provide the Bronx with long-overdue and much-needed access to the waterfront and outdoor recreational space,” said New York State Senator Jose Serrano Jr. “This seven-mile project will encourage outdoor physical activity, which can improve the health and well-being of a community that has long dealt with negative health disparities. Along with improving access to our waterfront, the greenway will build a direct connection from Randall’s Island and the South Bronx to the urban forest in Van Cortlandt Park in the northwest Bronx. Many thanks to Mayor Adams, NYC DOT, NYC Parks, and all of the government agencies and community partners for their work on this issue.”
“I am thrilled that the mayor is announcing plans to expand the Harlem River Greenway to the Bronx,” said New York State Senator Gustavo Rivera. “For decades, Bronxites could not access the Harlem River waterfront as a result of racist policies and highway construction that impeded my community from enjoying this natural space. This groundbreaking effort will rectify this injustice by involving our community to create an environmentally friendly recreational space that my neighbors will thoroughly enjoy.”
“It is of the utmost importance that we continue to expand access to green space in the Bronx, and I am very excited about launching the community engagement process for the Harlem River Greenway expansion,” said New York State Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz. “This will help more New Yorkers enjoy Van Cortlandt Park, which I believe is the best park in all of New York, and I am grateful to the leadership of Mayor Adams, Commissioners Rodriguez and Donahue, and Mr. Kimball in getting this project started.”
“Greenspace is key to our health, our quality of life, our environment, and the vibrancy of our neighborhoods. Mayor Adams has a five-borough agenda to deliver those benefits to every corner of our city,” said New York State Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar. “Already the mayor has increased park construction projects by 142 percent, and now he continues this record with the Harlem River Greenway expansion. These seven new miles of greenspace will restore waterfront access to Bronxites after almost a century, circumventing the barrier created by the Major Deegan Expressway. The mayor is also committed to a project that meets the needs and wants of the people, incorporating comprehensive community input. I look forward to partnering with him to make New York City the greenest it has been in the modern era.”
“The expansion of the Harlem River Greenway will reconnect Bronx communities which have been long divided and unfairly denied easier and safe access to the Harlem River waterfront,” said New York State Assemblymember John Zaccaro, Jr. “It is vital that projects such as this continue and that the City of New York serve as a model for how municipalities across our country can address the negative impact of communities divided by highways and collaboratively work to implement solutions. I want to thank Mayor Eric Adams and his administration for their work championing this important project.”
“The plan to expand the Harlem River Greenway into the Bronx is long overdue,” said New York City Council Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala. “Bronx residents for far too long have been barred from community access to the waterfront; I’m glad that this plan aims to finally address that.”
“Greenways are among New York’s most valuable public spaces,” said New York City Council Majority Whip Selvena N. Brooks-Powers, chair, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. “Expanding the Harlem River Greenway to the Bronx is a rejection of the legacy of racist urban planning that defined New York for generations. I was proud to co-prime sponsor legislation to create a master plan for the city’s greenways and support increased connectivity and accessibility for our greenway network citywide. I celebrate this administration’s commitment to extending and expanding this network, especially to underserved communities in the outer boroughs.”
“The North Bronx has long desired the expansion of the greenway and the exceptional benefits that comes with it,” said New York City Councilmember Eric Dinowitz. “This project has my full support, and I am thrilled that the Adams Administration is making this a priority. The greenway serves as a vital connection between neighborhoods, providing a safe and accessible route for pedestrians and cyclists alike. Not only will the expansion of the greenway provide more opportunities for outdoor recreation, but it will also have a positive impact on the environment and put the Bronx on the map as a tourist destination. We have long advocated for this initiative, and I look forward to seeing its positive impact on the community and the environment.”
“I am pleased with the city’s investment in expanding the Harlem River Greenway to community members of the Bronx,” said New York City Councilmember Althea Stevens. “In addition to reconnecting our communities, it is an imperative solution in working towards alleviating daily transportation limitations for community members who reside in districts that are historically known to be transportation deserts. I’m glad to hear that the city will be utilizing community feedback, as partnership is important to ensure the rollout is effective and beneficial to the surrounding community.”
“Improving bicycle and pedestrian access to the Harlem River will help connect Bronx residents to this vital public waterway,” said Robert Pirani, director, New York-New Jersey Harbor and Estuary Program. “This is a top priority for the Bronx and Harlem Urban Waters Federal Partnership, and we are so grateful for the mayor’s initiative. Thanks to funding provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we will be collaborating with our partners at the New York City Department of Transportation and the Harlem River Working Group to provide small grants for community-led programs to bring the Bronx to their waterfront.”
“Green spaces are so essential to the health and well-being of New Yorkers, and there are far too many Bronxites who do not have easy access to a park or greenway right now,” said Meisha Ross Porter, president and CEO, Bronx Community Foundation. “I thank Mayor Adams for committing to this major investment in the Bronx Greenway today, which will help make all of us healthier and wealthier in the coming years. The Bronx Greenway will help connect Bronx residents to needed open space and to the city’s larger parks system. Today, we are starting to fix some of the most glaring disparities in access to parks and green spaces that exist in our city.”
“Since its inception, the Harlem River Working Group has been led by community members working improve access to the Bronx and Manhattan side of the Harlem River and develop the Harlem and Putnam River Greenways,” said Chauncy Young, coordinator, Harlem River Working Group. “The city’s first greenway plan that included the Harlem River Greenway was developed under Mayor David Dinkins and Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer in 1993. Today, we can finally make those dreams a reality, and I commend Representatives Adriano Espaillat and Ritchie Torres for their unwavering support to secure $7 million for the New York City greenway expansion, and Mayor Adams and Commissioner Rodriquez for prioritizing this environmental justice project once and for all.”
“Over the course of decades, the investment in the Bronx River Greenway has created acres of new parkland and invaluable connections between neighborhoods that were separated for so long,” said Siddharth Motwani, Bronx River Greenway coordinator, Bronx River Alliance. “Focusing on the Harlem River Greenway is an opportunity for the city to bring these same benefits to communities around the Harlem River. We applaud this investment and look forward to the development of accessible waterfront green spaces for the west Bronx.”
“The Randall’s Island Park Alliance is thrilled to learn of plans for increased connections to the island’s Bronx neighbors,” said Deborah Maher, president, Randall’s Island Park Alliance. “An expanded Harlem River Greenway will provide crucial commuting and recreational resources for New Yorkers and enable even more visitors to enjoy the park’s resources.”
“Brooklyn Greenway Initiative is the coordinating organization of the New York City Greenways Coalition that has advanced the citywide cause of this vital open space and active transportation infrastructure,” said Hunter Armstrong, executive director, Brooklyn Greenway Initiative. “In Brooklyn, we know how valuable it was when the New York City Department of Transportation developed the 2012 implementation plan for the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway. Having this plan in place has enabled the City of New York to make steady progress towards building out the greenway in our borough. The launch of the Harlem River Greenway plan is a significant and tangible win for the residents of the Bronx, and the other communities that the coalition supports, and hopefully, a sign of additional implementation studies to come.”
“RPA is very pleased to see New York City planning for better greenways in the Bronx and expanding access to the Harlem River waterfront,” said Tiffany-Ann Taylor, vice president for transportation, Regional Plan Association (RPA). “The more interconnected and accessible we can make New York City’s walking, running, and biking network, the healthier and greener our city will become. We look forward to working with NYC DOT during the planning process to make sure the needs of the local neighborhoods and citywide goals are reflected in the project.”
“Projects like these are sorely needed here in the Bronx, where the majority of households do not own vehicles, but where truly safe biking and walking routes are scarce due to wide arterial roadways that divide communities and cut off access to green space,” said Renae Reynolds, executive director, Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “Much like the extremely popular Hudson River Greenway in Manhattan and other waterfront greenways in Brooklyn and Queens, the Harlem River Greenway will be a public ‘front yard’ for Bronxites, reconnecting communities and offering a practical, sustainable, and low-stress way for people to get around the city. We look forward to seeing the ideas local residents have for how to make this space their own.”
“We’re thrilled at the news that the Adams administration will begin important work to expand the Harlem River Greenway,” said Eric McClure, executive director, StreetsPAC. “We know firsthand how hard Bronx-based advocates have worked to make this a reality, and it’s exciting to see their dedication coming to fruition. The expansion of the greenway will provide greatly enhanced recreational opportunities for Bronx residents and will surely lead to robust growth in bike commuting. We’re proud that we helped advocate for resources to expand the greenway network citywide.”
“The mayor’s announcement is great news for the Bronx and the city’s greenway network,” said Jon Orcutt, director of advocacy, Bike New York. “Thanks to the Adams administration for committing new funding to greenway upgrades and new projects, for pursuing the federal funding leading to today’s announcement, and for last year’s support for legislation requiring a regularly updated city greenway plan, as well as continued progress on projects like the East Midtown Greenway.”
“This is great news for Bronxites, who will get access to more green spaces and a critical new bike path that will expand their transportation options,” said Patrick Knoth, senior strategy operations manager of Citi Bike, Lyft. “Since the pandemic, we’ve seen an explosion in recreational Citi Biking along our waterfront, and we know this expansion will prove just as popular. We want to extend our gratitude to Mayor Adams and his team for supporting transformational projects like this that help us make Citi Biking safer, easier, and more fun for everyone.”
Photo credit: 1) Bridge. 2) The planned route for a Harlem River Greenway expansion. The multicolored arrow illustrates the three portions of a future greenway, each of which will be the focus of one public workshop in April. Credit: New York City Department of Transportation