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Pelham Parkway barrier chosen: 87 trees to be removed

With the final barrier now cleared it looks as if the Pelham Parkway reconstruction will finally become a reality.

John Fratta, district manager of Community Board 11, has been waiting for the project, attending countless meetings on the reconstruction, since 1986.

After years of frustration and waiting for the city agencies to come up with a final plan, the community has agreed upon a roadway barrier and intend to start the project next summer.

In a meeting held on Monday, October 5 between the New York City Department of Design & Construction, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Parks & Recreation and the Public Design Commission, all parties agreed upon the steel backed timber guardrail.

The steel backed timber guardrail would place posts 10 feet apart and would reach a height of 2 feet, 3 inches from the curb to the top of the rail.

For safety purposes, 55 trees that run along the road will be removed during the reconstruction, but, as part of the project, an additional 32 dying trees will be removed from the parkway medians.

Some residents remain concerned on the impact and effect this will have on Pelham Parkway and the surrounding community.

“Most people don’t know what happens with trees, their function,” said Jorge Santiago, a member of the Bronx Council for Environmental Quality.“They are noise barriers, they retain soil and prevent erosion, beside being beautiful to look at.”

According to Parks, over 200 replacement trees will be added to the area.

“I was thinking it would be better to transplant the trees if they are too close to the edge of the road or plant older trees,” said Santiago.“It really takes 30 to 40 years before a tree becomes fully functional.I’ll be dead before I enjoy the shade of that tree.”

The project has now reached a total estimated budget of $46.7 million and is expected to begin the first phase, the reconstruction of the south service road and mainline, during the summer of 2010.

“We’ve been given so many starting dates. I won’t believe it until I actually see it,” said Fratta.“It has been one of most frustrating projects we had to deal with because of City bureaucracies.This project should have been finished 10 years ago.”

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