On April 22, the DOT held a public meeting at the Palladia, 1616 Grand Avenue, to discuss the Jerome Avenue Traffic Study with the residents directly impacted by its findings.
“The DOT wants to facilitate public and community participation in the planning process to find problems and discuss solutions,” commented the DOT in a statement.
The goal of the study is to improve internal traffic circulation, the local streetscape and enhance safety for all road uses.
“Our hope is that the study will improve traffic and pedestrian safety and the quality of life along the corridor,” said Xavier Rodriguez, district manager of Community Board 5.
The DOT has collected information such as pedestrian counts and vehicular speed, including unique information surrounding truck routes on Burnside and Jerome avenues and Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard and the Cross Bronx Expressway.
The congestion produced by the highways in the vicinity is often cited as one of the worst transportation issues.
“I don’t think Jerome is the smartest place for the onramp to the Cross Bronx Expressway,” said Senator Jose Serrano.
“Our community board and Jerome Avenue are sandwiched between the Grand Concourse, the Cross Bronx Expressway, the Major Deegan, Burnside and Tremont Avenues,” Rodriguez added. “These are major roadways.”
Serrano also cites the auto repair shops on Jerome as a major reason for the constant congestion.
“Jerome is home to a thriving auto business industry,” Serrano said. “It brings economic development to the community, which is great, but that’s one of the main reasons you have a slowdown of traffic.”
However, Jerome Avenue has seen a changing streetscape, with new businesses and facilities, which Rodriguez feels impacts pedestrian and vehicle traffic.
While a number of auto body shops still dot the street, a number of new community facilities, such as Susan’s Place, a new 180-bed women’s shelter, are reshaping the area.
The newcomers have produced concerns for more consideration of pedestrians in the congested area.
Rodriguez hopes for the installation of neck downs, which extend the sidewalk for a shorter walk at key intersections.
“It’s not just an auto traffic study, but it’s also about making the community safe and pleasant for pedestrians,” he said.
Other solutions include more directional arrows and additional lighting.
Another solution Rodriguez has looked into includes the upcoming Select Bus Service on Fordham Road, which will include high-visibility dedicated bus lanes, fewer bus stops and off-bus payment that results in up to a 20% savings in time, according to the MTA.
“We hope to make BRT a reality in our area,” Rodriguez said.
Serrano agreed, believing help, in any way, is needed.
The senator, who recently supported the initiative for congestion pricing, feels the streets are overcrowded with vehicles and wonders if the study will be able to tackle this issue.
“I fear that the conclusion will be that this is a bigger problem than just putting in new signals or rerouting traffic,” Serrano said.
“At the end of the day, we need to have less cars on the road.”