BROOKLYN — More than 1,000 people walk or bike across the Williamsburg Bridge every day. Kenneth is one of them. He doesn’t want us to use his last name. Kenneth, who grew up in Brooklyn near the bridge, says he cares a lot about the 103-year-old structure. He contacted What a Shame at PIX11 because he doesn’t like what he’s seeing on the walkway lately. He's concerned about the safety of pedestrians crossing the bridge at night.
“It’s the graffiti, it’s the garbage," Kenneth told me, speaking of the cosmetic problems.
Graffiti covers much of the walkway and bike path on the bridge, which spans 7,308 feet from Williamsburg, Brooklyn to Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Some people crossing the bridge told me the graffiti gives the bridge character. Kenneth thinks it’s defacement of public property.
A spokesman for the New York City Department of Transportation, which is in charge of maintaining the bridges, says the graffiti is generally cleaned twice a year. After PIX11 called, the spokesman said “A crew will be sent to the Williamsburg Bridge for cleanup this week.” That’s good news.
There are many trash cans along the pedestrian walkway. That should help keep the bridge clean, but the day we were there, every trash can was filled to overflowing.
I asked the DOT spokesman how often they are emptied.
“Once a week," I was told.
That’s clearly not enough and Kenneth says it is creating a rat problem.
While graffiti and garbage are undesirable, broken lights on the walkway create a safety problem.
Kenneth says half the lights on the walkway are not working and have been out for months. As a result, he says, there are long stretches of the bike and foot paths that are dark and potentially dangerous. He’s reported the problem to 311 many times but nothing gets done.
“When I do report the streetlights out, I’m asked 'which streetlights?'” says Kenneth. “There are so many of them , where do I start?”
To make matters worse, he is asked to give the number of each light. There are numbers on each pole, but a frustrated Kenneth says “It’s dark. I can’t see the numbers.”
The DOT spokesman says the department is aware of the broken light problem on the walkway and is working to address it. Kenneth says it should have been “addressed” months ago. We’ll be watching to make sure the promised repairs are actually made.