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High Bridge To Be Open To The Public Next Year

The High Bridge as seen from the Bronx - Jan. 11, 2013 (credit: Ronald Monroe)

The High Bridge as seen from the Bronx – Jan. 11, 2013 (credit: Ronald Monroe)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Pedestrians and bike riders will be able to travel over the Harlem River via New York City’s oldest standing bridge, starting in 2014.

Now being called by some the ‘High Line of the Bronx,’ the High Bridge opened in 1849 and has a promenade that once was a tourist attraction. The bridge was once an aqueduct that tunneled water into Manhattan.

“Several hotels grew up in the area of the High Bridge and also an amusement park was there in the 19th Century,” Bronx historian Lloyd Ultan told 1010 WINS reporter Juliet Papa.

“But it has been left abandoned, neglected, and shuttered for decades,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Friday at the groundbreaking for the $61 million rehabilitation project.

The barricade which blocks access to the Bronx side of the High Bridge - Jan. 11, 2013 (credit: Ronald Monroe)

The barricade which blocks access to the Bronx side of the High Bridge – Jan. 11, 2013 (credit: Ronald Monroe)

“The bulk of the work is going to be restoring the stone masonry arches and then the steel arch that crosses the water. They’ve untouched for a long a time. So there’s some cracking in the stone work, there’s some corrosion on the steel,” David Burney, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Design and Construction, told WCBS 880 reporter Rich Lamb.

New lamp posts, viewing platforms, and safety fencing will be installed and and architectural lighting will illuminate it at night.

Rendering of the High Bridge after it opens to the public (credit: NYC Department of Building and Construction and NYC Department of Parks and Recreation)

Rendering of the High Bridge after it opens to the public (credit: NYC Department of Building and Construction and NYC Department of Parks and Recreation)

“It will bring people here from all over the five boroughs and even all over the world to see some of the most spectacular views in the city,” Bloomberg.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg with the High Bridge and George Washington Bridge in the background - Jan. 11, 2013 (credit: Ronald Monroe)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg with the High Bridge and George Washington Bridge in the background – Jan. 11, 2013 (credit: Ronald Monroe)

Sixth grader Jocelyn Fuentes probably had the best reason to see the bridge back in operation.

“For people like me, it will help reconnect with our families because I can walk safely across our bridge to visit my grandmother who lives in Washington Heights,” he told 1010 WINS reporter Juliet Papa.

EXTRA: Landmarks Preservation Commission Presentation On High Bridge Restoration (PDF)

“In fact, the joke is ‘Which group expanded first? From the Bronx to Washington Heights or from Washington Heights to the Bronx?'” said Bronx U.S. Rep. Jose Serrano.