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A Runner Waits Out Esplanade Delays

102410 Al RiverRun (3)
1123101256aColleen Leung The author at the end of the East River esplanade construction project just south of Delancy Street. The project is expected to be completed in July.

The East River Waterfront Esplanade and Piers Project was conceived in 2002 as part of Mayor Bloomberg’s “Vision for Lower Manhattan,” yet almost 10 years later, the plan to extend the esplanade from East River Park down to the Battery Maritime Building on the southern tip of the city, creating attractive open space and exercise opportunities for East Village and Lower East Side residents, has not made much progress.

With estimated completion dates that continually get pushed back, the completion of the East River Waterfront Esplanade sometimes seems like a mere pipe dream.

The mayor’s plan promised new bike paths, more seating areas and even a dog run along the water. Yet during a recent excursion to East River Park, I instead noticed a sign with a new projected completion date: July 2011.

According to the official government Web site, Phase I of the the project was scheduled for completion in fall 2010. However, sticking the small piece of paper on the sign over the old scheduled completion date seems to be the only work that has actually gotten done lately.

I proceeded to walk alongside the torn-up rubble next to the water for over a mile, hoping to possibly speak to some workers about the project, but there wasn’t even anyone there.

Perhaps one day the mayor’s plan will allow runners and cyclists to go all the way around lower Manhattan along the east side without taking a detour around the construction. Until then, I’ll get my exercise doing scaffold pull-ups and running back and forth on the small section of Esplanade that ends just South of Delancey Street.

Al Kavadlo is a personal trainer, freelance writer and author of the book, “We’re Working Out! A Zen Approach to Everyday Fitness” (Muscle-up Publications, 2010). For more information visit