A proposed plan to fence off overhead dangers - Metro US

A proposed plan to fence off overhead dangers

Danger is lurking above New Yorkers’ heads every day, one Councilman warns, and could drop in the form of a lobbed brick or tipped-over shopping cart.

People throwing things from overpasses is a problem that should be solved with higher fencing, Bronx Councilman James Vacca said yesterday at a Council meeting.

Vacca convened the hearing after several high-profile incidents: A man riding a bike was hit by a brick in August; Upper East Side resident Marion Hedgeshit was critically injured by a shopping cart thrown off an elevated parking garage in East Harlem in October; and two men were hit with another hurled shopping cart in the Bronx in January.

“Nobody should ever have to think that they should have to check above for falling objects as they walk the streets of New York,” said Vacca.

His bill would require 8 feet of fencing be installed along plazas, ramps, overpasses and passageways.

But officials from the Department of Transportation expressed concerns with the bill, saying the changes would cost $50 million and take at least 10 years. Many of the DOT-operated 787 bridge structures already have 8-foot-tall barricades, said DOT deputy commissioner David Woloch.

But should Vacca’s bill become law, about 100 elevated structures would have to be retrofitted, which would require an engineer’s assessment and redesigned fencing.

“It’s not an effective way to improve safety,” Woloch said.

Man recalls being hit with falling brick

Stephen Arthur, 44, a Park Slope cyclist and programmer, spoke at yesterday’s hearing and described how he was hit in the face with a brick thrown from an overpass while biking in Fort Greene on Aug. 12.

The brick was thrown from the Navy Street overpass, he said.

The people who threw the brick were never caught. He needed surgery, he said, and has been through two months of rehabilitation for injuries to his face and wrist.

Yesterday, he wore a wrist brace while biking to the Council meeting to testify, and said he still has pain in his teeth as well.

“No one deserves to go through this,” he said. “My whole right side of my face was hit, was jarred,” he told Metro.

He testified, he said, because “something needed to be done.”

Follow Alison Bowen on Twitter @AlisonatMetro

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