Governor Cuomo announced on Sunday, March 19 a $1.8 billion project to transform the Bruckner-Sheridan Interchange.
The governor said there would be $700 million in the state budget for the project’s first phase – turning the Sheridan Expressway into the Sheridan Boulevard .
The plan includes crosswalks and bike paths placed at different points along the boulevard which will allow pedestrians and cyclists to get from one side to the other.
In addition, the aforementioned crosswalks will allow residents access to Starlight Park.
The plan also includes a bridge to carry pedestrians between the park and the Bronx River.
The new project will also feature ramps that will give trucks carrying produce direct access from the Bruckner Expressawy to the Hunts Point Market
For decades, residents in the Hunts Point and surrounding neighborhoods have complained about the high volume of truck traffic travelling the Brucker, which then use local roads to get to the Hunts Point Market.
The amount of carbon emissions from the trucks has contributed to high rates of asthma in the neighborhood.
In addition, the trucks rolling through the community destroy the local roads.
Councilman Rafael Salamanca, a native of Hunts Point, is looking forward to the completion of the governor’s expressway plan.
“We’re excited and pumped,” said Salamanca.
The councilman, whose father worked at Hunts Point Market for 17 years, empathizes with those who have been dealing with the air pollution.
“I suffer from asthma,” he said. “I have friends that suffer from asthma.”
The councilman said it was important for the community to strike a balance between quality of life for residents and the importance of the Hunts Point Food Market.
According to Salamanca, the market feeds about 60 to 70 percent of the tri-state area and provides about 3,500 jobs.
“They play an intrical part in our local economy,” said Salamanca.
Bronx electeds also praised the new access to Starlight Park and the Bronx River.
Senator Ruben Diaz said the park was underutilized and Senator Jeff Klein pointed out the Bronx River is used by residents for canoeing and other activities.
The governor’s plan is almost identical to a study championed by local residents and stakeholders in 2013.
At that time, a Sheridan Hunts Point Land Use and Transportation Study called for crosswalks along the Sheridan Expressway.
Klein, one of several elected officials who have pushed for changes to the Sheridan and Bruckner, said the current plan is exactly what the Bronx community “wanted all along.”
One of the questions that remains is whether or not the governor’s commitment to put financial help behind the project will materialize.
“I hope that [Cuomo] is not just talking about it but that it becomes a reality there” said Diaz.
Dr. Ian Amritt, chair of Community Board 2, shared similar concerns.
“I am hoping this is not just a political promise since election year is drawing closer”, said Amritt. “But I doubt it is.”
Salamanca said he is “confident this $1.8 billion will remain in the state budget.”
Construction of the Sheridan Boulevard is expected to start in 2018 and reach completion in 2019.