This is the third in a series of blog posts that highlight stories from other cities and regions that have faced challenges comparable to that of the Syracuse region and the I-81 corridor. To read other blog posts in the series, click here.
The Sheridan Expressway was the only completed segment of a highway that was intended to run parallel to the Bronx River Parkway through the Bronx and Westchester County. The highway is at grade level and runs along the shoreline of the Bronx River between the Bruckner and Cross Bronx Expressways. There is currently an ongoing Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for improvements to the Bruckner Expressway, an elevated highway which has an interchange with the Sheridan. A coalition of local environmental, religious, and social equity organizations has created a plan to redevelop the Sheridan corridor with housing, a riverfront park, and alternative transportation choices. The EIS process has prompted calls by the community to eliminate this interchange and “de-commission” the Sheridan, which has low traffic volumes, especially by New York City standards. This would allow the redevelopment of the riverfront as envisioned by the community.
This project has benefited from a highly engaged community. A coalition of groups, including the South Bronx Watershed Association, Sustainable South Bronx, Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, and Mothers on the Move, has been engaged in the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) EIS process since it began. The community worked to develop a comprehensive vision for the area, with transportation improvements and economic and residential development and have been seeking alternative designs that will allow the implementation of this plan.
The community alternative is now one of two plans being studied in the EIS process. In addition, the evaluation process itself has been informed by the community: NYSDOT will look at standard quantitative measures (models and technical analyses) along with qualitative measures provided by community stakeholder groups, effectively combining technical analysis with local perspectives.
The EIS process takes time to complete, so the end of the story is still unclear. Regardless of the EIS outcome, the collaborative nature of the planning process has already set new standards for community involvement.
To read more about the Sheridan Expressway and how it compares with The I-81 Challenge process, check out a full version of the Case Study Report.
Photo courtesy of 917press via Flickr Creative Commons