Upgrading the GWB with modern bikeways and discrete walkways, while maintaining unobstructed views of city skylines and the Palisades, will create a “linear park,” projected to attract $42 million per year in new tourist spending.
A linear park is one that’s substantially longer than wide – rail trails, towpaths, repurposed industrial tracts and bridges. Examples include High Line, Brooklyn Bridge and High Bridge.
Walkway Over the Hudson
Also, the Walkway over the Hudson Historic State Park, a 1.3 mile, 24 foot wide decommissioned railway bridge connecting Poughkeepsie to the Highlands.
In 2007-2011 studies, the economics consulting firm Camoin Associates found that the WOTH doubled tourism in Ulster and Dutchess counties:
- It draws 500,000 visitors per year – 48% non-residents
- Daily average spending, $64.36
- New annual spending $15 million, with multipliers $24 million
- New jobs created 290, with multipliers 383
George Washington Bridge
Applying the WOTH model to the GWB, Camoin projects – based on 675,000 total cyclists and pedestrians in 2013 and an annual growth rate of 5% – that by 2024 the GWB would attract:
- 289,000 new tourists per year
- Daily average spending, $94.26
- New annual spending $27 million, with multipliers $42 million
- New jobs created 511, with multipliers 675
Cyclists’ Proposal: (2) 10′ paths for cyclists plus (2) 7′ paths for pedestrians and runners. 9′ high safety barrier set below pedestrian sightlines. Image Joe Lertola.
In addition to visiting the GWB, a family staying in upper Manhattan could hike the Palisades, tour the Cloisters and lunch in Harlem. Proximity to mass transit and bike share provide further access to Bronx Zoo, Botanical Gardens and Yankee Stadium.
Benefits to widening the GWB already include enhanced resilience, sustainability, pubic health, affordability and competitiveness. Add to that a world-class destination to spur tourist spending and local job creation.
The PA’s planned version of the GWB, with its cramped walkways and compromised views and will not realize this potential.
Port Authority’s Plan: (1) 7′ path for cyclists and (1) 7′ path for peds and runners. 11′ high safety barrier path obscures pedestrians’ view. Image Amman & Whitney.
High Bridge. Image NYC Department of Parks
Brooklyn Bridge Park, was named one of the “2011’s Coolest New Tourist Attractions” by Travel and Leisure Magazine. BBP has received $316M in funding from NYC, including $85M from the Port Authority. The Brooklyn Bridge itself attracts 2.6 million commuters and recreational visitors annually.
Brooklyn Bridge Park. Image Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates via Buildipedia.com
In its publication Measuring the Economic Value of a City Park System, the Trust for Public Land, determined San Diego‘s 1.3M residents derived $261M annually in enhanced property value from its parks system plus net income of $40 million from 1.3 million tourists.