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Elected officials, community board leaders push for more infrastructure

Traffic concerns persist with opening of new malls

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Concerns about infrastructure continue in the community as new malls open along the Hutchinson River Parkway corridor, the most recent being the Mall at Bay Plaza.

Elected officials are now joining Community Board 10, as well as an independent advocacy group, the Inter-Association Traffic Steering Committee, in addressing traffic and infrastructure concerns in the east Bronx, even as the stunning, gleaming new indoor Mall at Bay Plaza opened on Thursday, August 14.

Congressman Eliot Engel heaped praise on the new Mall at Bay Plaza as something that will “undoubtedly bring money from outside the borough into the Bronx.”

“It is also important in the coming weeks and months that we study the traffic flow and conditions in and around the development carefully to ensure that area residents and motorists who are coming to shop have the safest, most efficient transportation experience possible,” said Engel.

He added: “If problems with traffic are evident, it is imperative that federal, state and local officials work in conjunction with the Department of Transportation to resolve the issues adequately and in a timely fashion.

Borough President Diaz also expressed concern about traffic in a question and answer session after the mall’s ribbon cutting, even as he spoke about new jobs being created and a new borough destination.

“Those people who have concerns about mitigating traffic should understand that their concerns and that their voices are not falling upon deaf ears,” said Diaz about development at Bay Plaza and around it. “We are doing everything necessary working with the state and city Department of Transportation, working with the governor, the mayor’s office, our local elected officials, and the community board to do the best that we can.”

Diaz added: “The fact of the matter is that we are going to see a spike in traffic. But we are doing everything we can from adding lanes, to reconfiguring how you get in and out of these places. And so we are concerned about it, we will continue to address these issues and we are always looking forward to getting more input from the community.”

Peter Vallone Sr., the former Speaker of the City Council and a consultant for Bay Plaza’s developer Prestige Properties, said that an off-ramp (from I-95 leading to the mall) was being widened using a combination of city and state funding.

Martin Prince, chairman of Community Board 10, said he received assurances from the mall’s management that they would work with the board to deal with issues like traffic concerns.

“We at looking at that in the short term, but we are also looking at that in the long term,” said Prince of infrastructure needs, adding that the board plans on working with Prestige Properties to look to mitigate traffic exiting the mall and headed along the Hutchinson River Parkway East service road in Co-op City’s Section 5 toward entrances to the Hutch and I-95.

Ideally, there would be an on-ramp to I-95, as well as the widened off-ramp, said Co-op City resident Stuart Newman at the mall opening. He called the new mall “beautiful” and also said that traffic was a “huge concern in Co-op City.”

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 742–3393. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.
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