Earlier this year, the New York State Department of Transportation announced plans to “transform” the Sheridan Expressway in the Bronx. At first, advocates cheered, and it seemed like two decades of work to reduce highway blight and increase waterfront access was paying off.
But a few months later, it’s clear the project does not go far enough to improve environmental justice in Hunts Point. The project is $1.7 billion, with the bulk of it going to new off-ramps along Edgewater Road, off the Bruckner Expressway. Though these ramps connect directly to Hunts Point Market, they wouldn’t provide the most direct connection, and they would fly above Concrete Plant Park, adding more transportation infrastructure to an already overburdened neighborhood. Less than $100 million of the current plan is going to “boulevardize” the Sheridan Expressway itself, adding three crosswalks, traffic signals, and trees. Much of the holistic community visioning plan that addressed land use, park access, and pedestrian safety, led by NYC Department of City Planning and NYC Department of Transportation in 2013, has been ignored.
A similar plan with ramps along Edgewater Road is what initially activated communities back in 1998. They desired a highway plan that was in line with community goals of reduced pollution, more housing, and open space.
This is 2017, not 1957. State highway departments should be delivering better projects. Regional Plan Association urges the New York State Department of Transportation to go back to the drawing board on the Hunts Point Interstate Access Improvement Project. We urge another look at an interchange Oak Point instead of Edgewater Road, which would provide a more direct connection to Hunts Point market and allow easier access to the waterfront for residents. We also urge a narrower Sheridan Expressway (two lanes in each direction instead of three) and a stronger connection to local land use and the community desires that have been well documented. Further, closing the Westchester Avenue ramp from the Sheridan, rather than widening the road, will improve safety.
Tomorrow, October 18 marks the end of the initial public input period for the project’s environmental impact study. There will be a hearing and another comment period in the spring, once the EIS is completed.
Don’t delay – send comments to HuntsPoint@dot.ny.gov, or by snail mail to the NYSDOT Hunts Point Project Team at 47-40 21st Street, Long Island City, NY 11101.