Report: New York City Rejects Highway Teardown

Sheridan Expressway (photo: Dougtone via flickr)

Transportation Nation has reported in the past how cities around the country are looking to tear down urban highways as a way to reconnect neighborhoods and stimulate economic development.  Now comes word, via Streetsblog, that New York has rejected a years-long community-led effort to tear down the Sheridan Expressway, which runs through the South Bronx.  From the article:

"The Bloomberg administration has abruptly ruled out the possibility of tearing down the lightly-trafficked Sheridan Expressway and replacing it with mixed-use development, jobs, and parks. Neighborhood advocates and electeds are vowing to fight the decision, which they say fails to follow through on the comprehensive analysis the city promised to conduct as part of a $1.5 million federal grant."

"After receiving a $1.5 million federal grant to comprehensively study the potential to replace the Sheridan Expressway with development and parks, New York City suddenly rejected the teardown option based solely on a traffic analysis. "

At a meeting with South Bronx community groups on May 10, city officials unexpectedly announced that they would no longer consider the teardown option, according to advocates who attended. Led by the Department of City Planning, the Sheridan study promised to produce a comprehensive analysis of how replacing the Sheridan with development, jobs, and parks stacks up against rehabbing the aging highway and letting it stay in place. Instead, say advocates, officials simply showed community members a cursory traffic analysis to justify the rejection of the teardown option.

We asked the City Planning Commission for a response; we were referred to City Hall press office. Spokeswoman Julie Wood send this reponse:
"Analysis for the study showed that complete removal of the Sheridan would result in significant impacts. Namely:

· Trucks would be re-routed onto local streets, where schools and many other activities are occurring, throughout the day;

· New routes for trucks, such as East Tremont, already have significant traffic congestion during the morning rush hour;

· Trucks would need additional time for trips to the Hunts Point Markets; and

· Cars being re-routed to the Bronx River Parkway and other parallel routes, and causing significant backup where the Parkway meets the Bruckner Boulevard, particularly during the morning rush hour.

Taken together, these impacts amount to a fatal flaw for the removal scenario, and it has been removed for further consideration. 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."