Borough president proposes tearing down FDR drive in Fidi

Borough President Mark Levine has a nascent plan to tear down the elevated FDR Drive between the Brooklyn Bridge and the Battery, and hopes to take advantage of federal funds for “Reconnecting Communities” to move it along.

Levine sketched out the idea at a press conference yesterday: he would replace the viaduct, which was built in the 1950s, with a boulevard at street level much like Route 9A, or West Street, on the Westside. The plan would revitalize the waterfront, enhance transit, bike pathways and public spaces, and provide better waterfront access for pedestrians, he said. And the timing would dovetail with the resiliency project for Lower Manhattan going on now.

“Robert Moses created this in the 1950s and 70 years later it’s time to tear it down,” Levine said. “It’s not a new topic, it’s not a new proposal, but now we have the opportunity.”

The federal Department of Transportation has a $185 million grant program designed to fund projects that help communities burdened by past transportation infrastructure decisions. (We certainly aren’t the only neighborhood in the city dealing with this — the entire South Bronx was ruined by Moses and the Cross Bronx Expressway.) The deadline is Sept. 28.

The borough president noted that the viaduct has passed its usefulness; one defunct flyover from the Brooklyn Bridge is now used for parking of NYPD officers’ private cars (see below). He and other elected officials also noted that this will be complicated — and I am sure that is a big understatement. (I will try to gather more details as he has them.)

“There is still a lot to be looked at here and we don’t have all the answers,” Levine said. “We should seize this opportunity to do something big and bold.”



  1. What is the plan for traffic?

    • I don’t have any more info than that at this point — will see what they provide in the next weeks. But I assume it would function like Route 9A south of 59th.

  2. Yes, please!

    Imagine the added property & sales tax revenue, health benefits and environmental/climate impacts a project like this would have on the east side of lower Manhattan. It boggles the mind that an elevated highway and off-ramp is currently occupying most of that space.

  3. Exactly what that stretch of waterfront needs instead of that ugly elevated highway.

  4. Why stop here, let’s make the entire east side road (FDR) like West Street. All the folks living in housing there, many of them in public housing, would have access to the waterway, just like us. Wouldn’t that be novel.

  5. Tear down any statues of Moses, that evil Democrat.

  6. Seriously these “ideas” keep getting worse and worse… I dont know why they are living in this city.. they are trying to transform NYC in something that no one asked for it… cars are a reality and a necessity, traffic is bad already and they seem to be trying to make it worse..

    we better really decide better on next elections… enough is enough… im ready to cross party lines if it means we will have better people managing the city.

    • Yes Richard, it was certainly much better for all of us when the lower west side waterfront consisted of an elevated highway perched over an industrial wasteland. The Hudson River Park that replaced it is a total failure, nobody uses it at all today.

    • This is incorrect. Specifically, I asked for it! And I will keep asking for it.

      I’d be in favor of tearing down the entire FDR, but whatever, that’s not what is being discussed. But this section in particular is empty, anyway.

    • Actually, I for one gladly ask for NYC to transform into a city that prioritizes pedestrians, wider sidewalks, more public green space, more and better public transit over cars. Let’s add the obvious point: real enforcement (and improvement) of traffic safety laws for those who do drive in the city.

      My wish list would include bringing back get trolleys/streetcars (or modernized local light rail) into the city as well. Meanwhile, a partial step is the growth of dedicated bus lanes and corridors.

      • Original poster asks why these people are even living in the city. I think the real question is: why is he living in the city if he so craves a suburban or exurban auto-centric lifestyle.

        Cars aren’t a necessity in the city, but sadly they are part of our current reality. Some of us want to make our city more livable and safe, and then you have people who don’t realize the world and the city don’t revolve solely around their own personal desires.

      • Your idea to return light rail to the streets is an excellent one. Travel to cities in Europe and Asia and you can see how effective the modernized forms of light rail transport are. However, the transition would be costly and difficult, and involve massive change, which generally doesn’t go over well in this town.

    • Richard, How about all these Democrats who support the notion that people steal from the MTA? Am I, a lonely Republican in Lower Manhattan, the only person who pays for an MTA bus ride? I am such a fool.