Raze FDR south of Brooklyn Bridge, says Manhattan Borough President

Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine wants to shorten the FDR Drive by demolishing the raised portion of the highway south of the Brooklyn Bridge.

The plan, expected to be unveiled by Levine on Wednesday, would replace the elevated viaduct between the bridge and the Battery Park Underpass with a surface-level boulevard for motor vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.

“This is a spectacular part of New York City,” Levine said of the portion of lower Manhattan including the Financial District and the South Street Seaport.

“It’s [also] an area where a massive, ugly, noisy barrier obstructs the waterfront,” he said of the highway. “To remove it would just transform the neighborhood.”


Renderings show the South Street Seaport neighborhood without the FDR drive. Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine wants the highway viaduct to be razed south of the Brooklyn Bridge.

The FDR Drive, one of several highways through the Big Apple built in the 1950’s by New York City road kingpin Robert Moses, stretches up the east edge of Manhattan from the Battery in the south to the Harlem River Drive at E. 125th St.

Along the Seaport, the four-lane elevated highway looms over an asphalt bikeway and casts a shadow over South St.

The highway is a main north-south thoroughfare, but state Department of Transportation data shows that the section Levine wants taken down — south of the East River crossings — sees less than half the amount of traffic than drives on the rest of the FDR.

“This was a late addition by Moses,” Levine said of the section, which stretches three quarters of a mile. “It’s not heavily used.”

The idea of tearing down the southern portion of the FDR has been proposed multiple times — including in 2021 as a possible outcome of the city Economic Development Corporation’s climate resiliency plan.

Levine said that project — which aims to build defenses against flooding and sea-level rise along Manhattan’s southern tip — was an opportunity to reshape the waterfront.

The plan to take down the four-lane road and replace it with green space, bike lanes, and a boulevard sufficient to handle what traffic does use the current highway is rife with “challenges regulatory, logistical and financial,” the borough president admitted.

But he said he hoped the climate project, along with federal money earmarked for reconnecting communities separated by transit projects like the FDR, would make it possible.

“We want a commitment from the city to make this happen. We want it baked in to the resiliency plan,” he said.

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