Congestion Pricing's World Tour

It is old news that congestion pricing was killed by the NYS Legislature this past April, but the idea that didn’t flourish here is quickly spreading to many other countries. As MTR has noted, the concept has been successful in London, Stockholm and Singapore (see MTR #s 311, 532, 562). That list looks to [...]

New Goethals Bridge Design Reflects Project's Evolution

Port Authority rendering of replacement Goethals Bridge. Note the space for potential mass transit in center of bridge.

Earlier this month the Port Authority released renderings of a bridge that will replace the outmoded Goethals Bridge connecting New Jersey and Staten Island. The design, which includes six 12-foot lanes, shoulders, a bike [...]

Highway Removal Olympics: Who Will Win the Gold?

MTR readers may be surprised to learn that there are six serious proposals to remove urban highways in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

Though the size, location, and economic situation of the host cities varies, all the projects aim to remove highways that bisect urban life and redevelop them into, well, cities, with things like housing, streets, parks, and offices.

The six projects are the Sheridan Expressway in the South Bronx, Route 5 in Buffalo, I-81 in Syracuse, Route 29 in Trenton, Route 34 in New Haven, and I-84 in Hartford. Right now, all but Route 5 in Buffalo (which is under litigation) are in the study phase. This situation begs the question: which project will win the “Race to Removal” gold medal? Below MTR offers an update on each project, along with speculation about who will win.

A Pratt Center rendering of future development on the Sheridan footprint.

Swapping the Sheridan in the South Bronx

There is the long discussed plan to remove the Sheridan Expressway in the South Bronx and replace it with 28 acres of parks and housing. Advocacy by the Southern Bronx River Watershed Alliance, which includes Tri-State, Pratt Center, Sustainable South Bronx, Nos Quedamos, Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice and Mothers on the Move, successfully inserted the community plan into NYSDOT’s study of ways to increase access to Hunts Point market. The study is now reviewing four alternatives, two of these would remove the Sheridan.

Will it win the gold? It’s possible, but the silver is more likely. This project is on a good track, and NYSDOT Commissioner Astrid Glynn could use the Sheridan’s removal to step up her smart growth game, which so far has been rather passive. Recent design changes, strong community backing, and a blossoming interest in smart growth statewide also bode well for the teardown plan. The project is not moving rapidly however. It was first conceived in the mid-’90s (see MTR #s 124 and 181); the first step in the environmental review process was in 2003, the full environmental review did not start until last summer, and NYSDOT officials have said the study will not be complete until 2010. In other words, it may succeed, but it will take a few more years.

Battling in Buffalo

After years of study, the NYS DOT recently began the construction phase of a project to keep the berm-style elevated Route 5 roadway instead of replacing it with an at-grade boulevard that would increase access to Lake Erie. In response, Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, city council members, and recreation groups sued the agency in January, hoping to win modifications to the plan. The boulevard design, which would run from the Buffalo Skyway to Union Ship Canal, would open 77 acres for waterfront development and create the same number of jobs as the elevated alternative.

A billboard in Buffalo calls for the transformation of Route 5 into a boulevard

A billboard in Buffalo evokes a famous Ronald Reagan quote to call for the transformation of Route 5 into a boulevard.

Bizarrely, the first phase of construction involves knocking down part of the roadway only to rebuild it again at a taller height. Equally frustrating, according to Riverkeeper executive director Julie Barrett O’Neil, is that NYSDOT was supportive of the boulevard design until the very last minute. The group also notes in a press release that an elevated Route 5 would work against efforts to eventually remove the nearby Skyway. In December 2006, Congress for the New Urbanism, Center for Neighborhood Technology, and Smart Mobility studied traffic patterns along the corridor and found that its low traffic volumes could easily be accommodated on a surface street. For more on this project, see this excellent video and Riverkeeper’s website.

Will it win the gold? The project may not win the gold medal, but the staff of Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper should receive one for their hard work and advocacy. » Continue reading…

NYSDOT Smart Growth Website a Good Start, But That's All

The New York State Department of Transportation wants local governments to plan new development in their towns according to principles of smart growth and transit-oriented development. To this end, NYSDOT launched the Smart Planning Program website (shown at right) in June as a resource for local decision-makers interested in linking land use and transportation [...]

NJ Highlighted at National Bike and Pedestrian Conference

From September 2-5, 2008, hundreds of pedestrian and bicycle advocates; planning, public health and transportation professionals; and many more who want to make our cities and communities more walkable and bicycle-friendly places will gather in Seattle, Washington, for The National Center for Bicycling & Walking’s Pro Walk/Pro Bike Conference. Several sessions will highlight New [...]

New York City, State Haven't Shown MTA The Money

A report from NYC’s Independent Budget Office (IBO) released last week indicates that City and State financial aid to the fiscally strapped MTA has remained stagnant since the mid-1990s. In fact, while the MTA takes in more from fares, tolls, and dedicated taxes than it used to, state and city subsidies have fallen [...]

NYC Don't Know Much About Parking

Under the Bloomberg administration, New York City has made a remarkable effort to make itself a more environmentally sustainable and pedestrian-friendly place. However, the city’s zoning policies will erode this progress unless they are changed, according to a new Transportation Alternatives study, Suburbanizing the City.

At issue are zoning regulations which require [...]

GoBus Goes More Often

In April of this year, NJ Transit added style, speed and convenience to the commute between the Irvington Bus Terminal and Newark Penn Station. Servicing the 4.8 mile Springfield Avenue corridor between Newark and Irvington, the “GoBus” has proved such an overwhelming success, that NJ Transit [...]

Best of the West: Could CA Legislation Work Here?

Can CA Senate Bill 375 carpetbag to smart planning success in our region?

A bill that is working its way through the California legislature may serve as a model for connecting land use and transportation here in the Tri-State area. The bill, SB 375, requires regional planning agencies to include a sustainability analysis, [...]

One Less Reason to Keep the Sheridan Expressway

The community plan would tear down the Sheridan and replace it with open space and affordable housing.

A teardown of the Sheridan Expressway in the Bronx looks like an even stronger idea, now that design changes to NYSDOT’s Bruckner/Sheridan Expressway Interchange project have removed a key justification for keeping the Sheridan. NYSDOT announced [...]