It was supposed to be the coolest little bridge in New York City. Designed by the winner of a MacArthur “genius” grant and built at a cost of $4.1 million, it zigzagged just 400 feet down from Brooklyn Heights to the waterfront, bouncing slightly underfoot and adding a touch of rustic adventure to the bustling Brooklyn Bridge Park.
But the pedestrian bridge, which opened in March 2013, soon bounced a little too much. Then it started to move from side to side. Then, last August, it was closed abruptly — and temporarily — park officials said. By October, the target reopening date was amended to spring.
Now, with spring well underway, officials for the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, which operates the park, still do not have an exact date for when the Squibb Park Bridge, as it is formally known, will reopen, though they say it will be sometime in late spring.
Nor could they specify what went wrong. Belinda Cape, a spokeswoman for the park corporation, attributed the problem broadly to a “misalignment” issue. “Engineers have been working to correct the issue and repair the bridge,” she said. “They’re pulling it back into alignment and testing it, section by section.”
In the absence of an explanation, park officials and local residents have speculated that construction at two nearby sites may have compromised the bridge, or maybe it was the tendency of teenagers to jump en masse to accentuate the bounce.
“In an environment like this, if people find out something is moving, they are going to move it to the max, especially younger kids,” said Nick Ivanoff, president of Ammann & Whitney, a leading bridge engineering firm that was not involved in the project.
Those answers have not been enough for elected officials like State Senator Daniel L. Squadron, a Democrat whose district includes Brooklyn Bridge Park. He has called on the park corporation to provide a full accounting of the bridge’s defects and to recoup the cost of repairs, estimated at about $700,000.
Park officials say they planned to do both, although they declined to say whether they would also sue the engineer who designed the bridge.