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Manhattan borough president wants to tear down FDR Drive from Brooklyn Bridge to Battery Tunnel

Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine wants to tear down FDR Drive from below the Brooklyn Bridge all the way to the Battery Tunnel and turn it into a boulevard with green space.

Ashley Mastronardi

Oct 9, 2023, 2:45 PM

Updated 256 days ago


Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine has a bone to pick with late urban planner Robert Moses. 
“Eighty years after Robert Moses put this up, we’re saying it’s time to tear it down,” Levine told News 12 New York at Peck Slip Plaza.
He’s talking about the FDR Drive.  He wants to tear it down from below the Brooklyn Bridge all the way down to the Battery Tunnel and turn it into a boulevard with green space.
“We have a better vision, to transform this into a people centered boulevard that would have multiuse lanes, a lot of open space, greenery and most importantly, direct access to the waterfront and great views of the harbor,” he said enthusiastically.
Levine may have the title of president, but even at the local level, there’s a system of checks and balances. In this case, he needs the blessing of the city, state and federal government.  But the borough president says the precedent's already been set.
“We did it on the West Side, there used to be an elevated highway over there. It was torn down in the '80s. We’ve had a transformation there that’s remarkable,” Levine said. “Hudson River Park is one of the best public spaces in New York City right now. We know what it does to a waterfront to have access like that.”
Murray Hill resident and dog walker Gale Grant agrees that in the case of green space, west trumps east.
“Just from a very personal point of view because I walk a lot of doggies, that would be great for me. We have a lot of that kind of thing on the West Side, but down here on the East Side not so much,” Grant told News 12.
News 12 New York didn’t hear back from the New York state Department of Transportation, but the mayor’s office said it is reviewing the proposal and looks forward to discussing it with the state. That’s because the state DOT owns this portion of the FDR. But regardless of any bureaucratic red tape, Levine is confident this is what the people want.
Levine admits his plan is ambitious but says highways like this are being torn down all over the country. He says he already has support from local politicians and the community - he floated the idea on an X post (formerly known as Twitter) that has more than 3,000 likes. 

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