THE 216th Street pedestrian bridge in Bayside, Queens, is not much to look at. Covered in graffiti and peeling paint, it is a merely utilitarian structure providing a quick lift over tracks of the Long Island Rail Road. Not many people use it.
Yet, the future of the bridge, built in 1924, is a matter of anxiety in Bayside. The bridge, near 40th Avenue, has a staircase at each end, and in an effort to make it wheelchair-accessible, the city’s Department of Transportation has given the community two options: take the bridge down or rebuild it with winding ramps.
But it is the prospect of ramps that ignites strong feelings. Mr. Haber, a retired bridge engineer, dismissed the ramps as “a farce” that the community had not even asked for. “There are no handicapped people that we know of who have requested to go over it,” he said the other day, noting the presence of two automobile bridges, with pedestrian sidewalks, that are about five blocks from 216th Street.
Susan Seinfeld, the board’s district manager, said the community also was concerned that ramps would attract loitering teenagers and criminal activity. “The concern is: Build it and they will come,” she said.
For a Bridge Little Used, a Fracas Over Its Fixing