$266 Million to Widen the Deegan. Crumbs for a More Livable Bronx River.

deegan_sheridan.jpgMore lanes, or more housing and parks? Image of proposed Deegan Expressway widening: NYSDOT. Image of the community plan for a de-commissioned Sheridan Expressway: SBRWA.

Last week we reported on the state DOT’s expensive plan to widen part of the Major Deegan Expressway in the southwest Bronx, even as the agency fails to maintain upstate bridges. The dubious Deegan project sucks up $266 million in the state DOT’s new five-year capital plan, while more promising initiatives — like the potential removal of the Sheridan Expressway — languish without much money at all.

The DOT is considering tearing down the little-used Sheridan, a decision that would clear trucks off local streets and make room for housing, shops, and parks by the Bronx River. But the capital plan sets aside just $2 million for the project. As advocates said in testimony today, that’s only enough cash to muddle through the studies already underway.

To repeat: The capital plan includes $266 million to widen a highway in an asthma-choked area of the Bronx, and $2 million for a project that could dramatically improve neighborhoods pummeled by truck traffic. Addressing a State Senate committee today, advocates made the case for a different approach.

"We call on the NYS DOT to reinstate funding for the Sheridan project by reducing the size and scope of the Major Deegan Expressway project," said the South Bronx River Watershed Alliance in a written statement. "With scarce resources, the agency must do a better job of prioritizing transportation investments that promote the safety, health and well-being of New York City residents."

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign submitted detailed commentary on the full capital plan, which you can read here. Here Tri-State explains why the New York State DOT, which doesn’t expand highways to the same degree as other DOTs, still has a weakness for widening certain types of roads.

NYS DOT often plans large or over built rehabilitation projects under
the guise of "bringing the roadway up to modern design standards."
While certain modern design changes can help improve safety, spending
millions of dollars, in some cases hundreds of millions, to simply
widen interchanges, intersections, or build additional lanes does not
make sense. Such projects often do little to solve congestion in the
long-run, and come with very high price tags at a time when we have no
money to waste.

  • A quarter-billion to widen a single road, in a place served by transit, in the twilight of the automobile era. Wow.

  • The Dynamic Mumeshantz & Quilbert

    This HAS to be stopped. THIS is madness. There should be a giant protest where we get every livable streets advocate from all over the city to show up. I mean the asthma part alone? We need to demand justice!!!

  • Simply absurd. What avenues of protest are available? Pushing our representatives, legal challenges, etc.?

  • And they complain there is little money for public transit!

  • vnm

    It is beyond incomprehensible that this is even being considered given the huge state deficits. If you have to rehabilitation the viaduct – do so. But PLEASE, do not expand roadway capacity and encourage traffic in New York City.

  • Marty Barfowitz

    Whose idea is this? Who at State DOT is advocating this? Who are the lobbyists or politicians that are pushing it? How does a project like this get prioritized at NY State DOT? What is their process?

    Heads need to roll.

  • Jason A

    The state is broke, it can’t even repair the roads/bridges we have now, and we’re *expanding* capacity to dump more cars into the densest, most transit-friendly city in the country?

  • “A quarter-billion to widen a single road, in a place served by transit, in the twilight of the automobile era. Wow.”

    Reminds me of stuff as this:

    http://wwwtripwithinthebeltway.blogspot.com/2009/04/doctrinaire-anti-new-highways-position.html

  • Whose idea is this? Who at State DOT is advocating this?

    I’d be interested to know this, but it’s a side issue. The State DOT is part of the executive branch and works for the Governor. The Commissioner resigned a few months ago, and the Governor does not seem to be making his choice of a replacement based on livable streets issues.

    The next state DOT commissioner could do as much for livable streets in the region as Sadik-Khan has done. Streetsblog had more than twenty posts covering the search for a successor to Iris Weinshall, and at least five on Obama’s choice for Transportation Secretary, and I think it paid off. We could get similar results with a few posts about the State DOT.

    As I commented back in March, it’s nice to have a livable streets perspective on Federal issues, but a Streetsblog reporter at Empire State Plaza would shine desperately needed light on developments that have a tremendous impact on the region.

  • Waterfront boulevard, anyone? If it’s good enough for San Francisco and Seattle it should be good enough for the South Bronx.

  • “Waterfront boulevard, anyone?”

    Its good enough for the Trump devlopemnt between 57th and 72nd Streets in a true cosmopolitan manner.

    http://cos-mobile.blogspot.com/2008/05/nyc-west-side-highway-in-box.html

  • Mark, the area is served by transit, but the Deegan does not serve the area. The Deegan mostly serves White Suburban residents who have no desire to stop in the Bronx. The Bronx is the poorest borough in the city and as such is often taken advantage of. Imagine what this 266 million could get if it were spend on Health care, eduction, cross bronx subway service, or really anything that is accessible and helps the lower income population of the Bronx.

  • “The Bronx is the poorest borough in the city and as such is often taken advantage of. Imagine what this 266 million could get if it were spend on Health care, eduction, cross bronx subway service, or really anything that is accessible and helps the lower income population of the Bronx.”

    The highways play a significent role in the economy in jobs, such as the Hunts Point area industries. Widening lower I-87 is most sensible for such things as a bypas of the western CBE, and should be done as a cut and cover tunnel NOW while the land is still open, and then build development atop.

    Why not instead transfer the money from the obscene war-domestic spying-population traking and drug war cigarette prtectionism instead? Strange how so many progressives would instead protect those things.

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