Study of Sheridan Expressway Concludes
South Bronx Groups Calls for ActionSubmitted on 07/17/2013. Tags for this image:
This post is written by Dave Powell, Coordinator of The Southern Bronx River Watershed Alliance (SBRWA). SBRWA is a coalition of community-based and city-wide organizations who wish to see a vibrant community in the place of the Sheridan. Through consensus building among community stakeholders, SBRWA works toward a vision of the southern Bronx River watershed that includes a healthy environment, a prolific economy and a community that reaps the benefits of the river as a rich natural and recreational resource.
Last month, the City of New York presented final recommendations from a two-year, $1.5 million study of the Sheridan Expressway corridor in the South Bronx. The City's recommendations build on various aspects of a community plan developed by The Southern Bronx River Watershed Alliance (SBRWA).
The SBRWA has long advocated for the complete removal of the Sheridan Expressway, a 1.25 mile “highway to nowhere” built by Robert Moses, which separates several neighborhoods and routes commercial traffic onto local streets. The highway also acts as a barrier to the Bronx River and several waterfront parks developed by SBRWA member organizations. Neighborhoods in the Sheridan corridor make up the poorest urban congressional district in the country with some of the nation’s highest asthma rates.
The city’s final recommendations, which did not embrace the full-removal of the expressway as hoped for by the local community, did include many aspects of the community plan put forth by the SBRWA including:
- Construction of direct-access ramps from the neighboring Bruckner Expressway to the Hunts Point Peninsula, home to the largest food distribution center in the nation
- Installation of crosswalks, stop lights and other improvements on a .25 mile portion of the Sheridan that is at-grade. This would provide residents with safer access to new parks along the Bronx River
- Reconfiguration of the at-grade portion of the expressway which would combine the roadway and a parallel street, resulting in developable land in the Sheridan footprint
- Closure of at least two Sheridan ramps which currently cause major congestion and pedestrian safety issues at major local street intersections
If implemented, these actions will take thousands of trucks off of local streets, increase pedestrian safety, create better access to green spaces and create the potential for affordable housing and local economic development.
Moreover, the recommendations create a framework on which to build. As noted by Wanda Salamán of SBRWA member group Mothers on the Move, the SBRWA is “…encouraged to see so many pieces of our vision incorporated into the recommendations and are committed now more than ever to work with our communities, local elected officials and State and City agencies to fully realize our vision for environmental justice.”
Next Stop: STATE!
The next step toward implementing these recommendations is for the New York State Department of Transportation to initiate an environmental review process. “The State must capitalize on the two years of engagement from community stakeholders, City agencies and elected officials and take a step forward to create transformative change in the Sheridan corridor” said Vincent Pellecchia of SBRWA member organization Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “The environmental and economic health of South Bronx communities is at stake,”
The SBRWA also aims to garner the support of the incoming mayoral administration to move this process forward. In the interim, the SBRWA will remain engaged in the process to ensure that the community’s vision for a vibrant and pedestrian friendly watershed is realized.
Image: Members of the SBRWA held a press conference in May at a dangerous local intersection plagued by traffic exiting the Sheridan Expressway. Under the City's recommendations released last month, the off-ramp in the background would be closed. Source: SBRWA.