East Bronx Traffic Coalition focuses on improvements to I-95

The East Bronx Traffic Coalition is asking city and state transportation authorities to take a look at ways to better mediate traffic on I-95 north from Pelham Bay to Co-op City, and perhaps beyond.
Community News Group / Patrick Rocchio

A coalition of civic groups is calling on city and state traffic authorities to redesign a stretch of Interstate 95.

With a goal of easing traffic congestion in I-95 affected communities, the East Bronx Traffic Coalition recently wrote to government agencies seeking to create express and local lanes along the interstate between Pelham Bay and the start of the New York State Thruway near Co-op City to facilitate traffic flow.

The group has also asked the authorities to consider using a break-down lane as an extra ‘shoulder lane’ during peak-travel times.

The consortium of community-based organizations concerned about traffic argues that this highway section can be prone to heavy traffic in the morning and evening rush hours.

EBTC also contends that new development, like an expanded Bay Plaza or a proposed development called Gun Hill Plaza will only make the traffic heavier, according to their letter.

“Recent New York State studies show that the congestion on I-95 north is caused by the seven different entrances and exists within 3,000 feet,” said coalition member John Doyle, who represents the City Island Civic Association on the committee. “However, the same studies show that approximately 50% of this traffic is traveling through the area and not getting off at any of these access points.”

The EBTC is operating under the assumption that motorists unfamiliar with the area are likely to weave in and out of lanes, tying up traffic further and making congestion worse, said Doyle.

Creating two sets of lanes, one for through traffic and another for people who wish to utilize local roads, would allow motorists to pass through the area without disrupting local traffic exiting and entering the highway.

The EBTC specifically referenced Gun Hill Square, which if developed could include an apartment building for seniors and a shopping mall, as a reason to take a closer look at traffic on I-95.

The development would be situated just off the East Gun Hill Road exit off I-95.

Arlene Grauer, EBTC board member representing Country Club Civic Association, said the I-95 corridor near the proposed development needs reworking.

“That entire confluence of streets and roads is bad,” said Grauer of the area near the planned development.

The EBTC believes that developers should be required to set aside funds for infrastructure improvements that aid their businesses, she added.

She asked that local elected officials be forward thinking, and make easing the burden of increasing traffic a priority for the future.

Environmental concerns such as reducing air pollution are important, she added.

Father Richard Gorman, chairman of Community Board 12, which is reviewing Gun Hill Square’s plans as part of the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, said that there has been nothing new on the proposal in over a year.

“Regardless of what does or does not go there, the traffic is a mess now and the traffic was a mess 15 years ago,” said the chairman.

Gorman believes that changes to improve traffic are in order on I-95 from Pelham Bay Station to Conner Street.

A spokeswoman for state DOT said that the agency and the NYS Thruway Authority are working on a joint response to the EBTC on the matter.

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

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