East Bronx Traffic Coalition calls for further study of local roads

East Bronx Traffic Coalition calls for further study of local roads
Making the Wilkinson Avenue overpass two way is one of the grassroots ideas for easing traffic affecting Pelham Bay and surrounding communities. At peek times, the Bruckner Expressway and the service road heading north are jammed in the northbound direction, as is Amendola Plaza.
Community News Group / Photo by Patrick Rocchio

Coming on the heels of the announcement of a $1 million traffic study on road access to the Hutchinson Metro Center, a coalition of concerned individuals is making its own pitch for a broader study of major east Bronx arterial roads.

The East Bronx Traffic Coalition, a consortium of civic associations concerned about increasing congestion, has written to the city Department of Transportation and the New York State Thruway Authority asking that the agencies look at ways to construct exits and onramps into Co-op City to relieve traffic in the region.

The increasing traffic clogging the Hutch and I-95 from the Bruckner Interchange to Co-op City led to the letter.

Sent on Monday, May 11, the letter cites a 2000 study submitted to the state Department of Transportation that indicates that the construction of off-ramps and on-ramps onto the Hutchinson River Parkway was feasible.

It also states a second 2010 study identifies a lack of a direct exit and entry point for Co-op City to the Hutch as a major reason for congestion on I-95.

“Therefore, we are respectfully asking your organizations to work together to formulate a feasibility plan that could make these ramps a reality,” stated the coalition in their letter.

The coalition stated that the idea of ramps connecting the Hutchinson Metro Center to the Hutchinson River Parkway was also long considered unfeasible, but that now $1 million in taxpayer dollars will be spent to study the possibility.

EBTC has already met with Assemblyman Michael Benedetto and Councilman James Vacca, and has been working with Senator Jeff Klein’s office and will meet with him soon, said John Doyle, a coalition representative.

Doyle said that the traffic that afflicts places like Pelham Bay and the congestion in Co-op City and elsewhere are all interconnected.

He points to calls from the Pelham Bay Taxpayers and Community Association for two-way traffic on a Wilkinson Avenue overpass that connects the two service roads of the Bruckner Expressway as proof that traffic headed north is affecting local communities.

“Obviously, at all ends, the community is calling out that more needs to be done,” he said, adding that the community was appreciative of what had already been done, such as the widening of an I-95 off-ramp near the entrance to the Bay Plaza Mall.

“The traffic coalition is taking a holistic approach to the entire region,” he said.

Assemblyman Benedetto said that he discussed with EBTC his efforts to convince the legislature leadership to provide funding for a new traffic study for the area.

One of the issues, the assemblyman said, was ‘as of right’ zoning does not require developers of shopping malls or other establishments to conduct traffic studies.

Meanwhile, in Pelham Bay, PBTCA president and EBTC member Michelle Torrioni said that the ongoing traffic tie-ups along the Bruckner Expressway service road, and at Amendola Plaza, is impacting local travel.

The organization continues to call for its own smaller traffic change, first envisioned by the PBTCA’s late president Joseph Oddo.

“Making the Wilkinson Avenue (cross-over) two-ways would be helpful,” said Torrioni, adding that locals would make good use of the new road and that all agencies need to be involved to improve road conditions.

The letter was sent to the agencies around press time for this story.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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