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 the design changes at the most recent stakeholders’ meeting for the project last month. Add these to the planned Metro-North station addition in the corridor, and the advantages of Sheridan decommission become immediately apparent.

NYSDOT first proposed a renovation of the interchange over a decade ago to facilitate truck traffic in and out of Hunts Point, a neighborhood home to a large industrial area, including some of NYC’s most important food markets. In response, the Southern Bronx River Watershed Alliance (SBRWA), of which Tri-State is a member, developed a community plan that achieves the same advantages for truck traffic and adds 28 acres of affordable housing and open space by removing the Sheridan Expressway.

The state has included the community plan as an alternative after a long lobbying effort by SBRWA, and is currently preparing the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. As part of the process, each of the four alternatives being studied – two that remove the Sheridan and two that do not, and all of which improve truck access to the area. At the stakeholder meeting, NYSDOT outlined two design changes impacting all four alternatives.

From the beginning, the heart of NYSDOT Sheridan reconfiguration plans was a direct connection between the Sheridan and Edgewater Rd., which runs along the Bronx River to the Hunts Point industrial district (for clarification, some key roads are highlighted in the map at right). NYS DOT has recently discovered that this would necessitate a 50-foot-high triple-decker bridge over the Bronx River, an inappropriate structure in a neighborhood overwhelmed with highways. As a result, the decision was made to keep the river crossing at grade, making a direct intersection of Edgewater and the Sheridan impossible. By removing the possibility of the direct connection, a key advantage of the state’s original plan is eliminated, and with it, one of the main arguments against removing the Sheridan altogether.

The two alternatives based on the community plan that removes the Sheridan had called for trucks to access Hunts Point further to the south at Leggett Ave. from the Bruckner Expressway. To maximize mobility and access for trucks (and discourage them from driving through residential sections of Hunts Point), the Leggett Ave. interchange would have required on- and off-ramps in both directions to the Bruckner. In design, NYSDOT found that the westbound entrance ramp to the Bruckner from Leggett would end too close to the next exit ramp to be safe.

To maintain optimum access, NYSDOT instead plans to extend Oak Point Ave. south of Leggett to the Bruckner. To do so, Oak Point will be made into a two-way street (it currently runs east) and the state will purchase a plot of land between the current end of Oak Point and the Bruckner. This creates a truck route with complete access to and from the Bruckner and that avoids all residential streets. This change also significantly reduces the need for eminent domain takings.

The next step in the study process is a traffic analysis of all four alternatives, after which there will be another stakeholders’ meeting in late September or early October.

Image: Lower right – Google map of Hunts Point. At top of map is the Sheridan-Bruckner split, with the Sheridan to the left. [Pratt Center for Community Development]

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18 comments to One Less Reason to Keep the Sheridan Expressway

  • vnm

    Thanks for the news. The Bronx needs more affordable housing. This plan would be great.

  • vnm

    Oh, and by the way, as asphalt prices continue to increase along with the price of oil, the less pavement we have to maintain, the better.

  • momos

    The less pavement the better in general. This area has far too much impermeable surface area and not enough green. The Oak Point Ave alternative sounds excellent. The next step would then be to finally do what everyone knows must be done: Mr. Patterson, tear down this expressway. Make the area an international model of sustainability that addresses the needs of an inner-city community that has indured environmental and economic injustice for far too long.

  • […] 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 […]

  • Jay

    As touchy-feely as removing the Sheridan sounds, it would be an environmental and transportation disaster. Unfortunately, it is an example of simplistic thinking taking the place of serious long-term vision. The Sheridan plays a vital role for storing peak-period queues away from neighborhood streets with children. It has the potential, if the Cross Bronx and Bruckner connections are ever improved, to provide operational flexibility in the case of breakdowns. That way, when there’s an accident on the Bruckner, traffic can be diverted to the Cross Bronx instead of idling over residential neighborhoods for hours and spilling traffic back onto neighborhood streets. The existing right-of-way on the Sheridan could accommodate a BRT corridor to provide priority access for express buses from more remote communities with poor subway access that currently feed a lot of cars into Manhattan every workday. The list of possibilities of using an existing transportation asset for improvements can go on and on. But instead, what we have here is a group that supposedly advocates better transportation taking a position to create a marginal park by destroying one of the few areas that can responsibly accommodate M-zone land uses with some distance from homes, in the borough that already has the most parkland. Concern about parks can better be achieved by improving access to the existing parks, instead of adding marginal parkland that will further strain the Parks budget. Removing auto repair uses here will only push more of them into disadvantaged neighborhoods. This is liberal rhetoric with little real concern about the practical impacts on the people of the Bronx or the possibilities to make transportation improvements throughout the region. Tri-State often provides a shining light for regional dialog, but in this case is simply building unrealistic expectations and promoting ideas that would only worsen our long-term prospects if implemented.

  • JLG

    ?Is there any additional information available on the planned Metro-North station addition in the corridor?

  • Kyle Wiswall

    @JLG –
    The station in Hunt’s Point is part of MTA’s Penn Station Access program. The MTA is working on finishing a long-underway environmental review and hope to get funding into the 2010-2014 capital plan. Using existing Amtrak lines, the project would connect Metro-North trains between the New Haven line and Penn Station with new stations at Hunt’s Point, Parkchester and Co-op City in the Bronx and at West 62nd and West 125th in Manhattan.
    The concern, of course, is funding. The project was one of those to be funded by congestion pricing. The MTA remains positive that the project will be built. It’s now time for our state reps to step up to the challenge and find the money for this and other transit projects.
    See a LoHud article here: http://www.lohud.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2008808110344, and MTA’s site at http://www.mta.info/mta/planning/psas/
    for more info. Thanks for the question!

  • […] Sheridan Expressway Now Even More Unnecessary (MTR) […]

  • […] for Breathing Park" in the South Bronx was dedicated to the campaign to demolish the Sheridan Expressway, and the "Safer Skillman Corner" in Woodside, Queens demonstrated how the removal of a […]

  • […] a proposal to replace the lightly-traveled, Moses-era Sheridan with housing and parks. As the Tri-State Transportation Campaign reported last month, preserving it is becoming harder and harder to […]

  • […] a proposal to replace the lightly-traveled, Moses-era Sheridan with housing and parks. As the Tri-State Transportation Campaign reported last month, preserving it is becoming harder and harder to […]

  • Why not instead build affordable housing atop the Sheridan Expressway, with park improvements along the waterfront?

  • I think it would be better off that the Bruckner build the exit at 156th St and Garrison Avenue. This way, residents going to Morrisania and Longwood won’t have to pass the congested Hunts Point Av and Southern Boulevard intersection. This would allow these neighborhoods quicker access to the Bruckner Expressway.

    As for the Sheridan, I agree with tearing the expressway down. The only concern is Concrete Plant Park south of Westchester Avenue. I think that may suffer low usage due to the presence of the (6) elevated subway line and the Amtrack ROW beneath it as well as adjacent car shops on Whitlock Avenue. This can turn parents off into using the park for their children.

  • […] for the new riverfront space. For some background check out the Alliance website and read prior coverage […]

  • […] Southern Bronx River Watershed Alliance’s (SBRWA) efforts to convince NYSDOT to replace the Sheridan Expressway in the South Bronx with open space and mixed-use development will be featured in Wednesday’s […]

  • […] for the future of the Sheridan, and one of those is a teardown. As the study progresses, it’s becoming clearer that this is the right choice. “Blueprint” also characterizes the community’s […]

  • […] Point in the Bronx.  Notably, the Hunts Point station would help anchor new development in the Sheridan Expressway footprint if the highway is torn […]

  • […] radar,  highway removals are gaining ground in our region. NYSDOT is seriously studying the removal of the Sheridan Expressway in the South Bronx,  and New Haven Mayor DeStefano in Connecticut is actively seeking funding to […]

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