Photo by Erica Sherman
It’s taken some serious beatings over the course of its 131-plus years of existence, most recently during the unprecedented swath of destruction unleashed by Superstorm Sandy, but after months of repairs by Department of Transportation contractors, Sheepshead Bay’s Ocean Avenue footbridge has finally reopened.
After a series of email exchanges with the DOT inquiring into when the bridge would finally be open (we were initially told, weather permitting, by the end of December, which later turned into the end of January), we are pleased to say that the bridge has been reopened to pedestrian foot traffic as of this past Friday. So that’s actually somewhat ahead of schedule.
Thrashed by a combination of violent waves during the storm’s high tide, and the terrifying howl of 90-MPH winds, which sent untethered boats crashing wildly into the bridge’s structure, passersby were shocked the next morning to see huge portions of blue wooden handrail either dangling into the water or completely washed away, one of the more high profile symbols of destruction that trounced our area.
So, to all you pedestrians out there, who hated having to take the long and tedious route, around Emmons to Shore Boulevard, to get to Manhattan Beach and vice versa, your prayers have finally been answered. However, you may wish to take a flashlight with you when you cross the bridge, since the DOT is still working on the lighting.
Photo by Brian Hoo
The Department of Transportation has been repairing the 131-year-old Ocean Avenue footbridge spanning Sheepshead Bay into Manhattan Beach since the first days after Superstorm Sandy nearly destroyed it.
Now the agency tells Sheepshead Bites that the project is slated for completion by the end of the month, meaning that in 2013 pedestrians will no longer have to take the long, arduous route around West End Avenue to travel from one neighborhood to the other.
Sandy exacted a tremendous toll from the historic bridge. Not only was it pummeled by waves and entirely submerged by water, but several sailboats and motorboats slammed into its wooden planks, shattering chunks of it. One sailboat took the high road, careening over the top of the bridge and ripping out a swath of its rails.
The boats were removed earlier this month.
Contractors are currently on the scene of the Ocean Avenue footbridge, attempting to recover one of at least three sailboats that sank during Superstorm Sandy.
The company has brought in a barge with a crane mounted on top, and divers were in the water around 1:00 p.m. securing cable to the boats. It does not appear they’ll be removing all three of the boats currently underwater at the Manhattan Beach side.
The sailboats were not only destroyed by the storm, but as they became unmoored and slammed into the footbridge, they ripped open chunks of it. At least one sailboat took out a swath of railing, as Sandy’s tides sent the sailboat above the bridge.
The 131-year-old footbridge is closed as the city makes repairs.
View more photos.
Strolling over the Ocean Avenue footbridge’s wooden planks has been the quintessential Sheepshead Bay experience for 131 years, but a Department of Transportation initiative will soon see the familiar timber ripped out in favor of new materials – a decision they’ve made without community input.
For at least a month, the bridge, spanning the waters between Emmons Avenue and Manhattan Beach, has been a testing site for three materials expected to replace the tropical hardwood planks that make the walkway. But community leaders, organizations and activists are blasting the city agency behind the project for making such striking alterations without so much as a phone call to local stakeholders.
“They have never asked us,” said Community Board 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo. “I know nothing about the wood they’re using. It looks like they’re just doing whatever. When Department of Transportation has pure control, this is what happens. There’s no notification. Nothing.”
Read about the proposed changes, view photos of the new materials, and find out what local leaders say about it.
Stephanie Monseu, Keith Nelson, Rob Hickman, and Caleb Hickman (not in order). Source: Unicycle NYC Bridge Tour.
Sheepshead Bay — not exactly known for its wealth of bridges — but a cluster of happy unicyclists (yes, you read that correctly) are happily cycling their tuccheses around the borough on a single wheel, and recently made their way over what passes for “bridges” in our neck of the woods.
Stephanie Monseu, Keith Nelson, Rob Hickman, and Caleb Hickman, who operate the blog, “UNICYCLE NYC BRIDGE TOUR,” write that, “There are 2,078 bridges in New York City. We have been making weekly treks to cross every one of them… on unicycles.” The unicycling quartet has thus far traveled over the Knapp Street overpass over Shore Parkway, the pedestrian overpass at East 14th Street over Shore Parkway, and the Ocean Avenue Footbridge at Emmons Avenue, just three of the 223 bridges that they’ve already crossed.
They do need to be commended for their creativity. One can decide to take up unicycling, and one can set out to ride their bike over the city’s bridges, but it takes a truly special mind to combine the two and say, “Let’s unicycle over every bridge in New York City.”
As the saying goes, everyone needs a hobby.
We’re hearing that a sailboat snapped free of its moorings and drifted out towards the Ocean Avenue footbridge, where it’s now stuck. Firemen are on the scene. We’re trying to get you a photo, and will let you know if any damage was caused to the historic footbridge.
This is a breaking news report and is subject to change as more information becomes available.
Photo by Dave B.
Workers have been replacing boards on the Ocean Avenue footbridge all week. The work is part of regular maintenance of the bridge and does not change any of the design elements. Not all of the slots will be repaired, as Community Board 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo told us she would like, as the city has cited financial concerns. Scavo is worried that nails sticking up can trip residents traversing thee historic bridge, as well as knots that have developed in the boards that can snag women’s heels and children’s feet.
Courtesy of Life.com
Sheepshead Bay is only the ordered, tidy little marina it is now because of bulkhead’s built in the 1920s. At the time Commissioner of Docks John H. Delaney called Sheepshead Bay, “Perhaps the most naturally beautiful useful and most neglected inland waterway in the city.” Well, 90 years later and Delaney’s point stands. Sure, we’re not as muddy as we used to be, but we’re still among the most neglected inland waterways in the city, despite being one of the most beautiful.
Look closely at the above photo, circa 1900. That’s the same Ocean Avenue footbridge that stands today (though truncated). Emmons Avenue is to the left, and you can see some of the restaurants built on stilts over the water – one of them may even be the original Lundy’s.
We just received these photos of a small sailboat slamming into the Ocean Avenue footbridge, near the Manhattan Beach side. We’re not sure yet what happened or if there’s any damage. But from the looks of it, the boat somehow became unanchored and drifted with the storm’s choppy waves, eventually hitting the bridge. Please leave any info you have in the comments. We’ll update you as we find out more. (Photos and tips courtesy of nolastname)
UPDATE (6:55 p.m.): I’ve been out of the ‘hood all day, and now I’m getting reports that the wind and rain are incredibly bad and doing a lot of damage. Reportedly, the marina is overflowing and water is splashing onto the sidewalks and the bridge. Gusts are also taking down signs in the area.
Perhaps most importantly, the wind has taken out power, phone, and cable lines in a few spots. Please be careful and stay inside! It goes without saying, but downed power lines can be very dangerous.
Please take photos/video of damage and send it over to us. More importantly, be safe!
There is some construction work happening on the Ocean Avenue Pedestrian Footbridge and a barge loaded with a crane and steel beams is anchored in Sheepshead Bay. A reader alerted us to the construction when he saw some of the beams being replaced. Let’s hope they fix some of those crumbling planks, as well.
We wonder if this has anything to do with recent complaints from Community Board 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo. After the New York City Economic Development Corporation finished patchwork repairs to the crumbling Shore Boulevard bulkhead and the footbridge, Scavo balked at the results, saying “It looks like garbage.” Maybe workers are back to fix their shoddy work.
On Friday, June 12, 2009 when we passed by, there was no construction activity and no workers on hand. It appears as though the footbridge will remain open for pedestrians to walk over, as well as for them to get knocked over by bicyclists who simply refuse to dismount when crossing the bridge.