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It took six years to build Ocean Parkway in the 1870s, but it’s taken twice as long, and $10 million, to fix its bucolic bike lane — and the work isn’t finished yet.
The situation has left cyclists forced to contend with busted concrete and upended slabs along the more than five-mile strip linking Coney Island to Prospect Park increasingly frustrated.
“We paid a lot for our bikes,” Eugene Feldman said. “We deserve a safe passageway to ride on.”
Local elected officials have spent the last decade dribbling money into rehabilitating the bike path, which also includes new trees, straightening the existing pipe rail fence and repairing benches along the route.
Nevertheless, long stretches of the bike path still remain a bone-rattling moonscape of cracked concrete 12 years into a piecemeal renovation project that is still another $10 million short of completion.
“There are many problems involving deteriorating pavement along Ocean Parkway — in many cases dangerously deteriorated pavement,” Transportation Alternatives Communications Director Wiley Norvell said.
Some of the roughest patches of road exist near Avenue W in Gravesend where the tires of cyclists seeking safe refuge from automobile traffic have actually carved a dirt path around the broken bike path.
Councilman Domenic Recchia (D-Coney Island) has earmarked $1,250,000 to fix a section of the bike path from Brighton Beach Avenue to Nixon Court — but that still leaves 10 full blocks on the west side of Ocean Parkway unfinished and unfunded.
The perpetually cash-strapped Parks Department says it has no other choice but to appeal to local elected officials for funding.
“We hope that the community’s elected officials will continue prioritizing the importance of a restored Ocean Parkway,” retiring Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Julius Spiegel said.
In 2005, Borough President Markowitz — who hopes to construct a new $64 million Amphitheater at Asser Levy Seaside Park — funneled just $635,000 from his capital budget to help repair a section of the bike path from Avenue J to Avenue N.
The latest phase of reconstruction funded by Former Councilman Simcha Felder (D-Borough Park, Midwood, Bensonhurst), stretches from Avenue M to Avenue P. It costs $2 million and is slated to be completed sometime this summer. After that, it looks like it could be the end of the road for awhile.
The nation’s oldest bike path debuted along Ocean Parkway in 1894.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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