What is the Sheridan Expressway?
If you don’t live or work in the Bronx, you may not even be aware that the Sheridan Expressway exists. In the early 1960s, Robert Moses conceived the Sheridan as yet another option for drivers traveling between New York City and New England. His intended route would have extended from the Bruckner Expressway, up the Bronx River, through the Bronx Zoo and the New York Botanical Gardens, and ultimately have connected with the New England Thruway.
The influential patrons of the Gardens were able to defeat the Master Builder. The communities of the South Bronx were not, and since 1963, the 1.25 mile stub of the Sheridan has blighted the Bronx River, and the neighborhoods on its banks.
The proposal to expand the Sheridan
The Sheridan contributes very little to the region’s mobility. It carries less traffic than most nearby local streets, according to the New York State Department of Transportation’s (NYSDOT) own studies. The poor design of its interchange with the Bruckner Expressway causes frequent crashes and chronic congestion. Neither highway provides access to the manufacturing and distribution centers of Hunts Point.
Although the proximity of major highways has repeatedly been used to justify the siting of truck-dependent facilities such as the Fulton Fish Market in the area, the 11,000 trucks that enter and leave Hunts Point each day must travel for miles over local streets. They endanger residents; they pollute the air; they wear out our streets; and they cost local businesses thousands of dollars in delays.
NYSDOT originally proposed to expand the interchange between the Bruckner and the Sheridan, and to extend the Sheridan along Edgewater Road in Hunts Point. But this solution would involve the construction of a multilevel complex of ramps, right next to the Bronx River.
Community members, along with environment and parks advocates, have worked for many years to reclaim the river. Their efforts are now bearing fruit – new parkland is being created along the river, and the City, State, and Federal governments have committed over $60 million to the creation of the Bronx River Greenway, which will be a continuous pedestrian and bike path from the city’s northern border to the confluence of Bronx River and the East River The new interchange proposed by the State would overshadow the new park, and the extension of the highway into Hunts Point would place a multi-lane, high-speed truck route on grade between the community and the River.
The community’s alternative plan
Local residents recognize the need to create safe and efficient truck access to Hunts Point’s industrial areas – indeed, the existing road system dumps trucks onto local streets, where they kill and injure local residents every year. But they have challenged the assumption that truck access can only be created by sacrificing access to the waterfront.
So beginning in 1999, our organizations have worked together to design a more economically and ecologically sensible solution to local traffic and land use problems associated with the Sheridan Expressway.
Consists of three major elements:
Providing access from the Bruckner Expressway to Hunts Point at Leggett Avenue
First, building new access ramps (in both directions) from the Bruckner Expressway into and out of Hunts Point at Leggett Avenue will provide efficient truck access into the Hunts Point Market, the Fulton Fish Market and other industrial uses on the peninsula.
Access at Leggett Avenue would better serve drivers coming from and going to Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn than NYSDOT’s proposal, which forces drivers to use the desperately congested Cross Bronx Expressway. And bringing trucks onto the peninsula at Leggett Avenue will keep traffic away from the residential area and the waterfront.
Removing the Sheridan
Second, placing the new interchange at Leggett Avenue would allow the removal of the underutilized Sheridan Expressway, which would open up 28 acres of open space for new uses including open space and housing.
Even if 80% to 90% of the freed-up land is preserved as open space, there would be room for up to 1000 units of housing, at densities that would make good use of the area’s transit, infrastructure, and newly-reclaimed waterfront. And because the land is now publicly owned, it will be possible to make the new housing permanently affordable, so that low-income people can remain in the community that they are working to transform.
Elevating portions of the Bruckner to improve safety
Third, our plan would elevate the Bruckner Expressway between Hunts Point Avenue and the east bank of the Bronx River. This will eliminate the congestion and safety hazards inherent in the Bruckner’s current configuration.
Demolishing the Sheridan will also allow the hulking low-level viaduct and ramps that now blight this heavily-used transit and shopping hub to be removed. And removing the express lanes from their present location on grade will create space for bike/pedestrian lanes, traffic calming, and greening at the surface level, and allow the reopening of cross streets east and west of the river, that are now blocked by the expressway.
The Community Plan is being evaluated in NYSDOT’s
Environmental Impact Study!
After much hard work on the part of local community groups and supporters, NYSDOT announced in August 2003 that it would include the Community Plan as an alternative in the Environmental Impact Study it is conducting on the Bruckner-Sheridan Interchange. This is very positive – it means that NYSDOT will compare the environmental impacts of its original proposal with those of the community plan.
The study will use computer simulations to look at how well traffic would move if either plan was built. SBRWA wants to make sure that the study also compares the impacts of the alternatives on people’s health, on the environment, and on the future development of the area. – complan –