Community leaders and elected officials are bracing for increased traffic on east Bronx roadways because of major new developments.
They have growing concerns over a lack of a “master traffic plan” for the entire area with a a number of facilities, including three new shoping malls, a major new 911 call center, and an expanding office park complex, as well as the new golf course at Ferry Point Park.
Traffic is already problematic on the Bruckner Expressway between the Bruckner Interchange and Co-op City and the Hutchinson River Parkway between the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge and Co-op City.
The addition of large new facilities expected to generate traffic may make the situation unbearable if there are not major infrastructure improvements, said John Marano, Community Board 10 chairman.
A number of officials and key stakeholders met Feb. 21 as a first initial step to deal with problem.
Among those at the meeting were representatives from Gov. Cuomo’s office, Board 10, the city and state transportation departments, the Thruway Authority, Prestige Properties (Bay Plaza), Simone Development (Hutchinson Metro Center), and a representative from the new Throggs Neck Shopping Center in Ferry Point.
“The builders vented their frustrations: that these are going to be fine developments that are going to be economic engines of the Bronx,” said Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, who attended. “At the same time the DOT expressed its frustrations that they are just building these malls, and maybe that City Planning should have been involved sooner.”
Benedetto said he has been concerned for quite some time, and discussed the matter about three years ago with Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy when he visited the Bronx.
The assemblyman has secured funds in the state budget to enlarge Exit 11 off I-95 near one of the main entrances to Bay Plaza, where a new indoor mall is steadily rising.
City Planning study
“DOT is working with the City Planning Department on their review of this portion of the Bronx, and is also participating in preliminary discussions with New York State DOT, elected officials and other stakeholders,” said city DOT spokesman Nicholas Mosquera. “While the details of this process, including the participants in any such study and the timeline, are still being determined, we look forward to getting feedback from the community and working closely with these representatives to address any traffic and safety concerns along the corridor.
Local community and civic leaders are now forming their own working group on how to address the traffic issues, including the Country Club Civic Association, Waterbury-LaSalle Community Association, and the Pelham Bay Taxpayers.
Arlene Grauer of the CCCA one issue is that many of these projects are “as of right” , as well as environmental impact statements only required for the new Ferry Point Park Golf Course and the 911 Call Center.
“We are happy to have the shopping,” she said. “But it is like getting candy without the dental plan.”
Marano said he also is glad to have the malls, but he criticized all levels of government for not working together on plans to improve the infrastructure when they were first notified of these projects.