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.