The Rector Street Bridge
November 18, 2019
To the editor:
People who cross a bridge trust that it is safe; that it is built to proper standards; that it is inspected by engineers for reliability; that it meets neighborhood needs; that it is a permanent public asset.
The majority of the residents, workers, visitors and students crossing the Rector Street Bridge were not living or working in the area 17 years ago. They had no chance of knowing that the bridge was “temporary;” that there was a planned “bridge-trade” upon the completion of the West Thames Bridge; that the Rector Bridge construction confiscated garden plots; would block a recently located college entrance; waived and compromised fire and utility safety regulations; did not anticipate a 17 year time lag or substantial cost over-runs at the second bridge site; that the economics of running the Rector Bridge ridge were not adequately planned; that the maintenance for the “temporary” structure entails renovations and costs.
The planners, constructors and approvers must answer for these problems not the bridge users.
New Yorkers accept a certain time anxiety with their lifestyle. They are constantly under the gun to get to work; arrive at school; visit doctors; meet commitments; and rush along with their lives. They flow like water down the path of least resistance to arrive where they need to go. Some may be in pain, some blind, some old or disabled or young and vulnerable, or simply in an unending rush–but it is not fair to insist that any inconvenience be imposed on them. Their safety and well-being must always be first.
The Rector Bridge links Battery Park City and Wall Street with the most efficient walking corridor of subways, public transportation and ferries, perhaps in the nation. Many residents chose to live and work here because of this. They certainly do not see the West Thames Bridge as a replacement of the Rector Street Bridge, and they are willing to face and accept the dangers of an Albany intersection crossing if they lose their community bridge. How is our Vision Zero city planning to accommodate this additional exposure; the increasing volume of residents, tourists and workers over time; and the inevitable drunk and distracted drivers?
The planners, constructors and approvers that built the two bridges owe the public a complete explanation of how the current safety, cost, and reliability issues developed. They owe the neighborhood timely notice and the delivery of services that residents are paying their taxes for. Isn’t the public entitled to elevators that work without demanding? Isn’t the public ensured that a bridge wouldn’t be built without an eye to the future and that it would not compromise a single safety regulation?
We the People of this Community are entitled to the best work and thinking of the professionals and electeds who work for and govern us. We are entitled to assume that bridges and their related conditions are safe for us and for everyone, and that we are appropriately informed of these public matters at all times.
Why can’t our leaders and professionals engage our community to bring together our collective best thinking to preserve the Rector Street Bridge? Because, after all, we’re the best and most capable city in the world, aren’t we?
If you wish to help preserve the Rector Street Bridge, please add your name to the electronic petition at http://chng.it/5Vyjt4dk (if you haven’t signed a print petition).
Or you may speak out at Community Board 1’s November meeting conveniently located at Battery Park City School, IS-PS 276, 55 Battery Place this Thursday, November 21 at 6:00pm.