Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended the city's plan on Wednesday not to remove the Sheridan Expressway in the Bronx, saying tearing it down would create a "dramatic" increase in traffic in the neighborhood.
"The traffic impact would be so dramatic on lots of neighborhoods," Bloomberg said. "It would be great if you didn’t happen to need elevated highways or even highways at ground level. It takes space you could use for other things."
Activists and locals claim the city's decision last month not to tear down the aging expressway and replace it with mixed-use development was premature.
Congressman Jose Serrano, a Democrat, helped get a $1.5 million federal grant for a years-long study that examined replacing the 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. As WNYC reported:
"It destroys their dreams," Serrano 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.
Kate Hinds contributed reporting