Brooklyn Bridge climbs studied

Sydney, Australia, allows visitors to scale harbor bridge for a $125 fee

May 19, 2002|By Diane Cardwell | Diane Cardwell,NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

NEW YORK - If the enthusiasm of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is any indication, tourists and residents may soon be able to scale the majestic heights of the Brooklyn Bridge - but for a fee.

"The Brooklyn Bridge is history, there's a great view and it would be exciting," Bloomberg said of a proposal by an Australian company to lead explorers up the bridge, just as it does with a bridge in Sydney. "I think it would be a wonderful thing to try - why not?"

Down under, intrepid tourists outfitted in special suits that harness them to a static line can climb to the top of Sydney Harbor Bridge for about $125, according to a spokeswoman for NYC & Co., the city's tourist board.

Cristyne L. Nicholas, president and chief executive of the board, said that she had originally met with the Sydney operator, Bridgeclimb, in late 2000 to discuss something similar in New York, but that the events of Sept. 11 had stymied their progress. But she said she recently included the idea in a grant proposal submitted to the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. for federal marketing funds to stimulate tourism downtown.

Bloomberg, who undertook the Sydney bridge climb with his older daughter, Emma, described it as thrilling, though a little scary, and dismissed safety concerns about the plan, which was first reported in The New York Post.

In his description of his Sydney experience, he said climbers cannot remove the belt or the cable that secures them to the bridge. "You can't jump, you can't carry anything with you; what's the security issue?" Bloomberg asked rhetorically.

Michael O'Looney, the Police Department's chief spokesman, said the department would do a full background check on the company and examine the potential impact on traffic.

City officials could not offer a timetable, but Jennifer Falk, a Bloomberg spokeswoman, said the administration was working with the tourist board and the company to bring climbers to the bridge as soon as possible.

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