2015/10 – Linear Park

Chairman Degnan. Director Foye. Commissioners.

Upgrading the GWB with discrete and adequate paths for all users and maintaining historic views will create a linear park, a world-class destination to spur tourist spending and job creation.

A linear park is, one that is substantially longer than it is wide – rail trails, towpaths, repurposed industrial tracts and bridges.  Examples include High Line, Brooklyn Bridge, High Bridge and Walkway over the Hudson (“WOTH”).

Walkway Over the Hudson

WOTH is a 1.2 mile long, 24 foot wide, decommissioned railway bridge which connects Poughkeepsie to the Highlands .

In 2009 and 2012, Camoin Associates, a consulting firm based in Saratoga Springs, performed before and after studies of WOTH visitors.  They found that WOTH doubled the annual tourist visits to Ulster and Dutchess counties.

  • 240,000 new visitors per year from outside the region
  • Daily average spending, $64.36
  • New annual spending $15 million, with multipliers $24 million
  • New jobs created 290, with multipliers 383

walkway-opening-day-rocco_760Walkway Over the Hudson.  Image WOTH.

George Washington Bridge

Using the WOTH study as a model, Camoin projected the impact of a comparable facility on the GWB (based on 675,000 total cyclists and pedestrians in 2013 and an annual growth rate of 5% through 2024):

  • 289,000 incremental tourists per year
  • Daily average spending, $94.26
  • New annual spending $27 million, with multipliers $42 million
  • New jobs created 511, with multipliers 675

gwb-enhanced-1Cyclists’ Proposal: (2) 10′ paths for cyclists plus (1) 6.75′ path for pedestrians and (1) 6.75′ path for runners.  Image by Joseph Lertola.

In addition to visiting the GWB, a family staying in upper Manhattan could hike the Palisades, tour the Cloisters of Inwood and lunch in Harlem.  Proximity to mass transit and bike share provide further access to Bronx Zoo, Botanical Gardens and Yankee Stadium and the rest of the region.

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 – proposed gathering areas notwithstanding.

Thank you.

Neile Weissman, 2015

Screen Shot 2014-06-20 at 6.43.29 PMPort Authority’s Plan: (1) 6.75′ path for pedestrians and runners) and (1) 6.75′ path for cyclists. –  Image Amman & Whitney

Addendum

highbridge-opening-bannerHigh Bridge. Image NYC Department of Parks

Brooklyn Bridge Park, has been 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 by itself attracts 2.6 million commuters and recreational visitors annually.

Brooklyn_Bridge_Park_1Brooklyn 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.