City's Refusal to Tear Down Sheridan Expressway Irks Activists, Locals

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Bronx Congressman Jose Serrano is fuming over the city’s decision last month not to tear down the aging Sheridan Expressway and replace it with mixed-use development.

Serrano, a Democrat, helped get a $1.5 million federal grant for a years-long study that examined replacing the aging Bronx highway with housing and parks. The congressman said the city made a decision about the road that runs through the South Bronx before the study was completed.

"It destroys their dreams," he said, referring to members of the community who worked for more than a decade on the project. "It destroys the study. It destroys any semblance of doing it right by immediately taking this option off the table."
A spokesperson for the city says the two remaining scenarios — to retain and to modify the Expressway — "will continue to undergo further analysis. The study will be completed in early 2013." The city has said removing the highway would divert too much truck traffic to local streets.

Serrano says he'll work with members of the community to try to convince the city to change its mind. 

"Why would you quickly say removing it is not an option?" he said. "Well then, why even keep studying it? That wasn't the agreement we had. We were going to look at everything."

Activists shared Serrano's outrage.

"The first thing that we need to do is for the city to look at all the economic development options that are possible," said Elena Conte, an organizer at the Pratt Center for Community Development, which is part of the Southern Bronx River Watershed Alliance. "And to make a decision that actually benefits all the stakeholders in the community. And that involves giving (the Sheridan's removal) the hard look that it deserves."