After almost 20 years of pushing for a greener, safer, and more sustainable community, The Point CDC (and the rest of the community) are celebrating the allocation of $97 million in New York State’s recently approved budget to begin converting the ugly Sheridan Expressway into a beautiful, green boulevard along The Bronx River.
The 1.29 mile connector was built in 1962 with the original intention of extending up to Co-op City, however, that never happened and its very existence has been questioned and called redundant and unnecessary in a community already choked with deadly fumes from vehicular traffic.
Already the community suffers from some of the highest rates of asthma in the nation but this conversion will hopefully ameliorate the situation.
As it stands, thousands are cut off from The Bronx River by the Sheridan but once converted, it will be akin the West Side Highway which was transformed into beautiful, greenlined boulevard from the craggy, industrial artery that it was.
The need for conversion is even greater now after the West Farms Rezoning went into effect spurring construction of over 1,000 affordable housing units at what is being called The Compass Residences.
The $97 million is only part of the cost and original estimates placed it at upwards of $120 million 3 years ago but it’s more than likely to have risen exponentially in cost.
Originally, the community and local activists called for the removal of Transportation Sheridan completely but a study released by the city indicated that traffic would only worsen as it spilled onto local roadways if removed.
That’s where the boulevard comes in along with adding a ramp that would lead traffic straight into Hunts Point reducing travel through residential streets and would be located at Longwood Avenue.
The conversion into a boulevard will be limited to the at-grade section above Westchester Avenue since South of that it dips below-grade as it begins to rise and connect with the Bruckner.
These monies are part of $288 million budgeted for the rehabilitation of these two major thoroughfares in the South Bronx.
The victory is a sweet one and yet further illustrates the importance of advocacy and activism in our borough. It’s a reminder that often times we fight for things that won’t happen overnight but over the span of years and even decades so that we can leave The Bronx a better place than we inherited it from the previous generations.