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City Island Residents Sue Over Planned Bridge Upgrade

Many Say New Design Is Too Modern For Quaint Fishing Community

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — City Island residents pride themselves on living in one of the city’s few fishing enclaves. But, the aging bridge to the island is about to be replaced with a design that has some of them concerned.

“You see that bridge and you smell that water, it’s very home, comfortable, quaint. We’re not all that modern,” Barbara Harrison told CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell on Friday.

The island could be getting a very big dose of modern if the Department of Transportation gets its way. It is planning to replace the 17-foot tall, 112-year-old bridge between City Island and the mainland with a brand new span that comes complete with a 150-foot tall tower.

The new bridge will come at a cost of $102 million.

“It looks like the gateway to Vegas. It’s crazy, it’s absolutely crazy,” City Island Chamber of Commerce member Skip Giacco said.

The tower of the proposed bridge is nearly 10 times as tall as the current structure. But, what has made residents even more upset is that they had no input on the design.

“No public hearing was held. The construction start date was ignored by the DOT without notifying the community,” State Sen. Jeff Klein explained.

Klein joined island residents in filing a lawsuit against the city on Friday. They argued that the DOT violated the law by not getting adequate input from the community or performing an environmental impact study.

The DOT declined to go on camera but insisted that it had dozens of meetings with community leaders and that it had tweaked the design so that it would be even shorter than originally planned.

Still, residents called the vision out of touch.

“They’re simply imposing this bridge design on us because they want to build a signature bridge that they will be remembered for,” Civic Association spokesperson Barbara Dolensek said.

After the lawsuit was filed on Friday morning, a judge issued a restraining order that halted progress on the project until it can be reviewed.

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