Home Brooklyn After maintenance dispute, Aquarium bridge to come down

After maintenance dispute, Aquarium bridge to come down

by Benjamin Kabak

The Aquarium bridge feeding into the West 8th Street subway station will soon be torn down. (Photo by flickr user BrooklynLove)

For the better part of a 50 years, a pedestrian bridge has spanned Surf Ave. near West 8th St. in Coney Island, delivering subway passengers from the station to the boardwalk and aquarium. That bridge, according to a report in The Brooklyn Paper, is set to come down later this year.

Will Bredderman has the story:

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.

Despite objections by local advocates that the bridge keeps “children and the elderly out of danger while crossing busy Surf Avenue,” wider sidewalks and a crossing light are a far better way to create a vibrant pedestrian-focused area than a bridge is, and daylighting the street underneath will help as well. The fish, albeit rusty, were always a kitschy cute touch.

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Chicken Underwear May 13, 2013 - 6:05 pm

In the future we should name accidents sites like we name hurricanes.

One day, a person, maybe a child, will be hit by a car because that bridge is no longer there.

We should name that death “Chuck Reichenthal”.

Bolwerk May 13, 2013 - 8:57 pm

I haven’t been there, but from the picture it looks like it makes the area less pedestrian friendly. Even if that’s not so, it sounds to me like the pedestrian improvements they are making more than make up for the loss of the bridge, at least if those improvements span at least several blocks.

alen May 13, 2013 - 6:47 pm

wait till walk signal
make sure cars aren’t moving
cross street

99.9% of the time you will be safe

pete May 14, 2013 - 2:25 am

Wait and waste 1 minute x 1000s of tourists.

Larry Littlefield May 14, 2013 - 8:55 am

Right. Don’t you dare cross at the green. Wait until there is a wall of cars to block of the ones speeding up behind. Then hustle across or get run over by drivers jumping the green. If you trip and fall while running and then they run you over because they “didn’t see you,” it’s on you.

That’s how I taught my kids to cross the street. To get across Prospect Park W and Prospect Park SW, I taught them to go through the subway station. At one point I wrote to NYCT stations to ask if a stairway on the other side could be opened on weekends, and they obliged.

alen May 14, 2013 - 9:13 am

i’ve driven through there many times, its not that bad. in fact its where everyone has to slow down because there is no bridge near the stillwell station a few blocks up and lots of pedestrians always cross there.

Kevin Walsh May 13, 2013 - 7:02 pm

Unsightliness? All they had to do was apply regular paint jobs. I forgot, that’s not in the budget.

Kevin Walsh May 13, 2013 - 7:03 pm

I’d rather have a maintained elevated crossing than depend on the tender mercies of the Surf Avenue traffic.

Kevin Walsh May 13, 2013 - 7:07 pm

Facebook comment on my page:

“My prediction: the bridge will come down, a pedestrian will be run over crossing Surf Avenue, and the lawsuit award against the city will be several times what it would have cost to build a new bridge.”

Bolwerk May 13, 2013 - 9:01 pm

Oh, for fuck’s sake. The city isn’t responsible if an amateur driver hits someone on Broadway, and shouldn’t be on Surf Avenue. The bridge doesn’t make a difference.

What law says the city would be responsible because a bridge used to be there?

Alon Levy May 14, 2013 - 2:27 am

What lawsuit? It’s New York; pedestrian deaths don’t matter.

SEAN May 13, 2013 - 7:39 pm

This reminds me of a song…

Brooklyn bridges taken down, taken down, taken down. Brooklyn bridges taken down, waist of money.

Frank B May 14, 2013 - 8:02 pm

It is spelled “waste”.

Jerrold May 13, 2013 - 7:58 pm

What about drivers who go through lights, especially when there is no cross-traffic in their way, such as at Surf Ave. and West 8th St.?

How right that person was, about danger to children and the elderly!

As for maintenance of that bridge, why wasn’t the CITY maintaining it?
Since it was NOT physically part of the subway or of the Aquarium, it should have been considered as in the same category as a city street.
Who maintains other pedestrian bridges, such as those over the FDR Drive east of Alphabet City?
I would assume that the city does.

Jerrold May 13, 2013 - 8:09 pm

P.S. It just occurred to me that the Second Ave. and Third Ave, els were torn down for being eyesores. If something serves an important function, maybe its unbeautiful appearance should be tolerated.

Frank B May 14, 2013 - 8:23 pm

Amen to that. Hell, the IRT Second Avenue El Actually connected to the IRT Flushing Line over the 59th Street Bridge.

That’s right; we once had service on 2nd Avenue, providing incentive for more investment on the East Side, and the Flushing Line actually had a trunk line to feed into; making it far more useful than a mere transfer to other lines.

The idea is that the people couldn’t possibly stomach a loud, noisy el moving people by the millions, but they can tolerate packing like Sardines into a stinking bus.

We ripped down the 3rd Avenue el in The Bronx, leaving large areas with solely bus service.

We ripped down the Culver el, destroying an important transfer.

We ripped down the Lexington Avenue el in Brooklyn, leaving denizens stranded in the middle of Bedford-Stuyvesant.

We ripped down the Myrtle Avenue el’s in Brooklyn, leaving our Brooklyn Navy Yard (now becoming increasingly prosperous) thirsty for better transit.

And what really makes me sick is that the BMT had come up with a new type of subway car, the Bluebird, which was an articulated subway car that was light enough for el use, but would also work on subway lines. It was comfortable, beautiful, and was even projected to reduce travel times and greatly boost reliability on all elevated lines. It was a protection of their investment in their elevated lines without paying huge costs to upgrade them. What happened?

The City of New York took over, canceled the Bluebird order, and ripped down the els.

Our moronic bureaucracy even almost ripped down half the Canarsie Line in the late 60’s, under the guise that we’d actually have money some point to build a new branch of it!

If the people of Crown Heights hadn’t fought, the Franklin Avenue Shuttle would’ve been closed for good, as late as the 80’s!

At least LIRR ROW’s throughout the city are preserved for future subway conversion; ripping down el’s a deed that can’t be undone.

That’s progress right? In Hawaii, and California they’re actually building els in large quantities. We can’t even extend an existing el a couple miles to LaGuardia.

Sad, but unfortunately true.

Bolwerk May 15, 2013 - 1:23 am

Buses are cheap and infinitely flexible, being able to travel along a two-dimensional plane around obstacles. Everything should be a bus. Everything.

Justin Samuels May 15, 2013 - 2:43 am

Both the Flushing and Astoria lines merged together, went across Queensborough bridge, and went down 2nd Avenue. The Astoria line was IRT. After the city took it over, they moved the platforms back and made it BMT (They had torn down the Second Avenue el, so they decided to connect it to the BMT which terminated at Queensboro Plaza).

Some of the els torn down were replaced by subways.

A 4 8th Avenue subway replaced a 3 track 9th Avenue El, and a 4 track 6th Avenue Subway replaced a 2 track 6th Avenue El. The Fulton Street el, from Lefforts Boulevard to Brooklyn Bridge, was replaced by a 4 track Fulton Street Subway.

The G, the Brooklyn/Queens Crosstown local, was always meant to replace the Lexington and Myrtle Avenue Els to an extent.

The original Culver El went from Coney Island, connected to the West End Line , and then went up 5th Avenue across the Brooklyn Bridge. First the BMT built a 4 track 4th Avenue Subway only one block away from the 5th Avenue el. Then the IND built a 4 track subway (the Smith Streets line) to Church Avenue. A decision was made to connect the culver el to Coney Island to the Smith Streets line, giving the IND for the first time direct access to Coney Island.

So the net losses to transportation in NYC aren’t as bad as they sound. And though the Bronx lost the 3rd Avenue el in the 70s, remember the D in the Bronx was supposed to replace the Jerome Avenue line. They ended up not tearing down the Jerome Avenue line, so the Bronx has no net loss of trains overall.

The east side of Manhattan is what had the net loss of trains, with the 2nd and 3rd Avenue els being town down (both Els merged together around 125th Street). But the 2nd Avenue subway will replace that (Phase one is being built). Whenever they complete the remaining phases, the 63rd street tunnel would have the capacity to serve as a queens connection, replacing the queensboro bridge connection with the Second Avenue El).

Bolwerk May 15, 2013 - 4:57 pm

Nitpick: Flushing and Astoria were joint operations, but they settled on IRT specifications for that purpose.

They ended up not tearing down the Jerome Avenue line, so the Bronx has no net loss of trains overall.

The east side of Manhattan is what had the net loss of trains, with the 2nd and 3rd Avenue els being town down (both Els merged together around 125th Street).

A “net loss” argument completely misses the point. The number of practical trips was greatly lessened by permanent bustitution and el removal. A line in one place doesn’t replace a line in another place. SAS will have a fraction of the capacity of the two els it “replaces,” and won’t even directly serve The Bronx.

John T May 13, 2013 - 10:24 pm

Concentrating people on the sidewalks is best for Coney Island businesses and street life in general. The people will cross the street like people should, and pass the B&B Carosell (when it reopens) and maybe take a ride, or buy a corn dog, and in general add more life to a quiet part of Surf Avenue.

This is a good thing.

Sergey Kadinsky May 14, 2013 - 12:10 am

the Intrepid Museum has a $11.5 million pedestrian bridge built in 2003 by NYSDOT funds. So why is the NY Aquarium bridge any less important? Is it because the NY Aquarium is outside of Manhattan?

JMP May 14, 2013 - 12:31 am

For those of us who bring a child in a stroller to the aquarium, this bridge greatly reduces the number of stairs down which we need to carry the stroller to get to the aquarium, since there are no stairs at the aquarium end.

I have no issue with using a crosswalk. I do hope that if there is no elevator in the works at that station, that they can at least widen the stairs enough that a stroller can be carried up/down the stairs without blocking them, as is the case now.

Alex C May 14, 2013 - 2:06 am

Not a fan of this, to be honest. That bridge ensured that pedestrians headed to the beach and boardwalk from the subway and back didn’t need to cross a busy avenue. Taking it down and not replacing it is just a bad idea.

BrooklynBus May 14, 2013 - 8:43 am

I agree. Tearing the bridge down is plain dumb. First of all it is not unsightly and the reason given to no one knows who is responsible for maintaining it also makes no sense. DOT, Parks and the MTA also dispute who is responsible for te East 14th Street bridge over the Belt Parkway. Is that sufficient reason to also tear down that bridge?

The community doesn’t want it but who asked the thousands of users of the overpass? It is very heavily used in the summer, probably moreso than any other city overpass. Now I am not a fan of overpasses usually because no one likes to walk up then down to access them but this one is unique. It connects the Boardwalk directly to the el saving you walking a flight down and another flight up. Walking up the three long flights to the Q is very difficult for some. This overpass saves you one flight and also protects you from traffic. It needs to stay.

Larry Littlefield May 14, 2013 - 8:52 am

I have used that bridge many times, often with my children, to get to the Boardwalk as well as the aquarium. I was happy to do so, because running over pedestrians and people on bicycles while in motor vehicles is legal in NYC.

Look to the reason behind the reason. The bridge was not maintained, and for that reason probably needs to be replaced. With the city so deep in debt, in debt called debt and in underfunded and retroactively enhanced pensions, there is no money.

I expect a lot of the city’s infrastructure will be found to be “unsightly” over the next few decades. Subways going over bridges, for example. And perhaps some elevated lines, stations and tunnels.

Mike May 14, 2013 - 9:00 am

Keep the bridge, its useful. At best the argument concerning its structural integrity is vague, at worst its a downright lie.

Here is a quote from the NYC EDC website:

“the current configuration routes pedestrians nearly 300 yards out of the core amusement area.”


Like John T. says, its always about money.

Michael Gillman May 14, 2013 - 12:33 pm

Granted, the bridge looks like hell. It should be replaced.

The way I read the description on the EDC site though, they just want to re-route the pedestrian traffic going direct to the aquarium and boardwalk towards the amusement area. By getting the traffic at street level, there’s a far greater chance kids will drag their parents towards the Cyclone.

The aquarium should have probably just maintained their direct link to the subway…

llqbtt May 14, 2013 - 9:40 am

There is no direct beach or boardwalk access without the bridge as I am assuming that the entire span (train station to Boardwalk will go). W 8 St will be less utilized and Coney Island will get busier. There is no direct access to the beach in that section from Surf Ave or the train station without it.

Forcing additional pedestrian interaction with cars is not a well thought out concept. Right? Isn’t that the point of closing Broadway as a through street from Columbus Circle to Madison Square?

llqbtt May 14, 2013 - 9:40 am

correction, Union Square

Mitchell July 24, 2013 - 2:37 am

You are correct I am the token Booth Agent at W8th St for the last 16 years give or take.There will be even less traffic here and more at Stillwell. This could be done on purpose to utilize Stillwells new design and elevators. W8thst remains a dreary station with its bi level platform plagued by the pigeon population.it does have an escalator in the back but provides benefit only to people who live in the buildings.

Peter May 20, 2013 - 3:47 pm

Unsightly? So what? The whole neighborhood is unsightly!

What a bone-headed decision.

Carl Fardy July 22, 2013 - 8:44 pm

After 9/¹11 it seems like NYC don’t give a shit about historical monuments
But in the 80s they did tear down the coney island blue gas tank on Neptune
Ave and w12 so maybe they never cared I can’t even find a pic of that gas tank!-_


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