Gov. Cuomo Celebrates New Sheridan Boulevard, But Advocates Still Wary

The new Sheridan Boulevard. Courtesy: Gov. Cuomo's office
The new Sheridan Boulevard. Courtesy: Gov. Cuomo's office
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Gov. Cuomo stumped in the Bronx on Wednesday to celebrate the completion of his own project that tore down the Sheridan Expressway, turning it into a boulevard-style roadway — but the hullabaloo overlooked the fact that the state still ignored the community’s demands not to build new ramps that would funnel truck traffic directly through a residential neighborhood.

As part of the $1.7-billion Sheridan Boulevard project to finally replace the Robert Moses-era highway — which connects the Bruckner and the Cross-Bronx expressways by cutting off South Bronx neighborhoods from the Bronx River — the state’s Department of Transportation said it would build new ramps on Edgewater Road to connect the Bruckner Expressway with the massive Hunts Point Food Market. But for years, advocates from the South Bronx have urged Cuomo to consider an alternative to sending trucks through the residential heart of Hunts Point.

“[They] want to put in a ramp that puts young children in danger on a daily basis, when the Sheridan Expressway already puts people in danger,” Aaliyah Daniels, a lifelong Hunts Point resident and president of ACTION, a teen advocacy group run out of The Point CDC, said back in 2018. “People have been advocating for this for over 20 years, and you continue to ignore us, and ignore our lives, and ignore that we matter.”

Instead of building the new Bruckner access ramps on the bank of the river on Edgewater, which sits in the middle of a residential neighborhood, advocates proposed placing them on Oak Point Avenue and Leggett Avenue — in a more industrial area so that truck traffic to the food market would largely bypass people’s homes, and wouldn’t endanger pedestrians walking to and from the river.

But Cuomo pushed ahead with his own design, which, according to advocates, means merely trading one imposing, dangerous barrier to waterfront access for another, and means just another way for pollution to flood one of the city’s most asthma-plagued neighborhoods.

The state's plan to reroute trucks to the Hunts Point market puts them closer to residential areas.
The state’s plan to reroute trucks to the Hunts Point market puts them closer to residential areas.

One local advocate told Streetsblog back when the state first revealed its preferred ramp alignment that it “omitted everything the community had inputted to the plan.”

And her feelings haven’t changed much since then.

“We have concerns about the Edgewater ramps and just kind of felt like the state DOT wasn’t very transparent and communicative with the community about other options,” Maria Torres, executive director of The Point CDC told Streetsblog on Wednesday after Cuomo’s announcement.

The state claimed at the time that it couldn’t put the access ramps on Oak Point Avenue because of the extra cost and effort of having to build support structures in a railyard used by CSX and Amtrak.

But as Cuomo patted himself on the back for eliminating one waterfront barrier, the same community that’s had to bear the brunt of traffic and pollution from the Sheridan Expressway for decades, is just getting another.

“The reasons why they said it wasn’t feasible weren’t really great,” said Torres. “One of the things talked about was how the Sheridan cut off the waterfront, and again it’s a ramp in front of the waterfront.”

Mayor de Blasio also could have stepped in to nudge the state to consider another option since the project sits within city limits, but remained mum. City Hall did not respond to a request for comment.

Other parts of the Sheridan Boulevard project include three new crosswalks, a new two-way bikeway along Edgewood Road leading to Starlight Park and the Bronx River Greenway, a new pedestrian bridge over the Bronx River, and improved intersections at Bruckner Boulevard and Hunts Point Avenue.

The former highway is now a less-highway-like, but still-fast roadway akin to West Street in Manhattan, which was built on the site of the former West Side Highway.