The question of whether New York will tear down the “highway to nowhere” in the Bronx got a little closer to being answered Wednesday. The U.S. Department of Transportation announced that the city will receive a $1.5 million planning grant to create a neighborhood development plan for the Sheridan Expressway and Hunts Point area.
The fate of the Sheridan Expressway has long bedeviled local activists. Originally intended to speed up trips from New York City to New England, the Sheridan ran out of funding, and the highway has been accused of everything from contributing to asthma rates, blocking local access to parks and stymieing local affordable housing development.
Joan Byron has been working on this issue for decades at the Pratt Center for Community Development. “It feels like a real vindication for the community organizations of the Southern Bronx River Watershed Alliance and for ourselves that that the federal government is now on the page where South Bronx communities have been for 10 years,” Byron said.
New York City will use the grant to determine how to increase affordable housing and access to parks in the area, while also addressing congestion and access issues related to the Hunts Point market. "The first time anybody ever tries to drive to Hunts Point," Byron said, "they come off the Triboro Bridge, they're flying along the Bruckner Expressway, they think there ought to be an exit for Hunts Point and there isn't."
Earlier this year the New York State Department of Transportation found congestion would increase if the Sheridan came down, but some analysts say the study was flawed. As WNYC's Andrea Bernstein has reported for the Transportation Nation project, tearing down highways tends to reduce traffic volume.
The Bronx also received a $10 million grant to redesign Fordham Plaza. The grants are part of an Obama administration initiative to promote more environmentally friendly transportation.
You can watch a video of one plan for the neighborhood here, and see photos.
More information about the grants, as well as a list of recipients, can be found here.