Happy Landings: West Thames Foot Bridge Makes Long-Awaited Debut

The first of two spans of the West Thames Street pedestrian bridge is hoisted over West Street early Saturday morning. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Jun. 02, 2019

The West Thames Street pedestrian bridge, connecting Battery Park City to the Financial District, is set to open this fall. But its showiest debut took place during the wee hours of two mornings last weekend.

After arriving by barge, a crane hoisted the two spans of the lenticular truss bridge into southern Battery Park City, where they awaited a second lift into place over West Street. Early Saturday morning, a span was set over the street’s north-bound lanes; the next morning the second and longer of the sections landed at the southbound side.

Though much work remains to be done on the 230-foot-long, $45 million bridge, its installation marks the climax to a 10-year saga of scuttled plans, interagency squabbles and ballooning costs that have plagued the project since its first missed projected date of completion: September, 2010. Back then, the design, by SHoP Architects, also called for a lenticular truss bridge, but that metal-and-wood structure was open on top and looked like a strand of DNA. The city handed WXY Architecture + Urban Design and Weidlinger Associates the assignment of coming up with a new design, which it presented five years ago.

The long awaited bridge is enclosed with a transparent mesh material and will soon be topped with a glass ceiling, meant to create a sense of openness to those who pass through it. “Hopefully, said Claire Weisz of WXY, it will make people feel like they’re much more in a shade structure or a trellis walking across the highway, looking at the water and being able to see views.”

What made this installation unique, according to Matt Krenek, who manages the project for Skanska, was the challenge of bringing the structure into a neighborhood with “just a gazillion different places that people can get through and get into your area. About six blocks of the neighborhood were cordoned off for the lifts. That worked out, Krenek said. We were able to create a good solid perimeter but still let all the curious onlookers get a good view of the excitement.

As for the bridge installation itself, Krenek said “everything had to be perfect.”

“And if you ask me,” he added, “it couldn’t have gone any better. It went off without a hitch.

Below, the bridge installaton in pictures. Photos by Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib



First of the two spans of the West Thames Street pedestrian bridge arrives by barge on Wednesday, May 29, near the Battery Park City esplanade at West Thames Street. The sections were assembled off-site, in Red Hook, Brooklyn. 


Riggers prepare the bridge span to be lifted by a 500-ton capacity barge-based crane.


The offloading of a span at the end of West Thames Street draws the attention of neighborhood spectators.



A remote-controlled conveyor called a Gold Hofer will carry this span a short distance along West Thames Street to where it will be hoisted into place over the northbound lanes of West Street.


A 600-ton capacity crane begins its lift of the 100,000-pound span. 


An ironworker pulls on a tag line, helping to control the load as it travels above West Street. 


The span hovers above the closed northbound lanes of West Street.


A worker helps guide the bridge onto its base on the east side of the street.  


The eastern span, settled in place over West Street.



The larger of the two spans, at 140,000 pounds, awaits being moved into place.


The span is lifted and swung over West Street's southbound lanes and to the bridge section that it will join. 


The task of mating the two structures requires careful coordination between the crane operator and other workers to perfectly align openings less than one-inch in diameter for the 128 bolts that will hold the bridge sections together.


The West Thames Street pedestrian bridge, 1:25 a.m., Sunday morning, June 2.