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The "Queens Ribbon" - A New Bridge for the Millennium

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The “Queens Ribbon,” a concept design for the first new bridge to Manhattan’s central business district in over a century, was unveiled today by a consortium of NYU Tandon School of Engineering, T.Y. Lin International, and Sam Schwartz Engineering. The pedestrian-bicycle bridge would connect Queens to Manhattan.

The consortium was formed in the wake of COVID-19 to develop transportation improvements that would not only be of value during “normal” times, but would also provide a lifeline in future crises. During the COVID-19 outbreak, New Yorkers have been turning to walking and biking in great numbers. After 9/11, Super Storm Sandy, the 2003 blackout, and transit strikes, walking and biking became the best, and in some cases, the only alternative for many travelers to and from Manhattan’s Central Business District (CBD).

Even before the coronavirus outbreak, cycling over the East River bridges exploded by 132% over the last decade, yet bikers and pedestrians have been squeezed into tight spaces that inhibited growth and compromised safety for both groups. As New York City proceeds with plans to add hundreds of miles of protected bike lanes on its streets, the demand for cyclists and walkers to cross rivers will only increase. The new bridge will provide safe and separate areas for its users to commute and stroll, and will be an iconic visual addition to the East Side of Manhattan, Long Island City, and to the surrounding areas in Queens.

The 20-foot-wide bridge will have an observation belvedere providing spectacular, panoramic views, and will be a draw for New Yorkers and tourists alike. It will have elevator access to Roosevelt Island and the Cornell Technion campus.

“The Queens Ribbon will offer tremendous value in so many ways – from an environmental perspective, an aesthetic perspective, and a health perspective,” said Dr. Michael Horodniceanu, P.E., Professor and Chair of NYU Tandon’s Institute of Design & Construction (IDC) Innovation Hub. “The IDC Innovation Hub is proud to have participated in the development of the bridge thus far, and we look forward to continuing our association with T.Y. Lin International and Sam Schwartz Engineering in seeing this and future ‘sister’ bridges through to fruition.”

The bridge offers the best route for NYC to grow sustainably, drawing New Yorkers and tourists to spectacular views from the bridge. At a preliminary cost estimate of $100 million, the Queens Ribbon will be a small investment to make when compared to the savings that will be derived from reduced pollution and traffic.

“The Queens Ribbon will become an essential element of the region’s transportation network expanding opportunities for safe and accessible travel to Manhattan for bicyclists and pedestrians,” said Gerard Soffian, P.E., Adjunct Professor at NYU Tandon School of Engineering, and former director of the NYC Department of Transportation’s bicycle program.

“The urban travel mode of the future won’t be flying cars, or robo-cars or even cars. It will be shoes and bikes,” said Sam Schwartz, Founder and CEO of Sam Schwartz Engineering. “Cities can best thrive on these low impact, non-polluting, equitable, and healthy forms of transportation.”

“The Queens Ribbon will be more than a connection, it will also be a destination. T.Y. Lin International has developed an innovative and cost- effective bridge concept — a pedestrian bridge of exceptional lightness and beauty that is floating in the air and yet has an immense presence,” said Dr. Sajid Abbas, P.E., a Senior Vice President at T.Y. Lin International.

The team is also in the early planning stages for two additional bicycle-pedestrian bridges into Lower Manhattan. One from New Jersey in the Hoboken/Jersey City area would be the first carbon-free transportation route from the Garden State into Manhattan’s Central Business District, and the second crossing from Brooklyn would relieve the current unsafe space constraints on the Brooklyn Bridge’s bikeway/walkway.

Dr. Michael Horodniceanu of the NYU Tandon School of Engineering and Bala Sivakumar, a Vice President with T.Y. Lin International, will unveil plans for the Queens Ribbon 11 a.m. today at the planned Midtown terminus of the bridge. Meet Michael and Bala at East 51st Street and Beekman Place.

Visit here for the project’s report, more images, and information about the team.