The East Bronx Traffic Coalition brought together residents to discuss their concerns about traffic with unprecedented retail development taking place in the borough’s eastern corner.
The coalition, a consortium of civic organizations, held their first public forum at Providence Rest in Country Club on Tuesday, June 24.
Members of the community testified as to their concerns about traffic growing pains in the region.
The public got a chance to look over the findings of the group’s volunteers who have researched a number of locations along I-95 and the Hutchinson River Parkway between Co-op City and Ferry Point that are already or may see an increase in traffic volume.
The group has been studying the issues for over a year.
Topics that the coalition members presented findings on were:
• an over view of how the traffic situation got to be a major concern – Frank Vernuccio
• Ferry Point, presented by Dotti Poggi
• Bruckner Interchange and an idea for a slip ramp onto I-95 north at St. Joseph’s Way – John Marano
• a proposal to change traffic lanes and signage near Amendola Plaza in Pelham Bay presented by Michele Torrioni
• the proposed development of a mall and possibly a senior residence along East Gun Hill Road, across I-95 from the Mall at Bay Plaza – Arlene Grauer
• Co-op City and the area around Bay Plaza by John Doyle
• recent developments along the Hutchinson River Parkway, with a focus on the Hutchinson Metro Center are – Robert Barbarelli
• possible future uses and concerns related to the former Whitestone Multiplex Cinema and proposed Paragon site, which now faces an unclear future by Al Belifiore
Public participation after the slide presentations drew varied comments and suggestions, from using highway shoulders for truck through-traffic to filling potholes on the Cross Bronx Expressway.
Grauer said the old roads are not suited for the new development.
“We are not going to accept new development in an area of old infrastructure,” she said. “The old infrastructure will not support the new development.”
Marano said that having all of the community associations together in one room was helpful because of the efficiency.
“I think we work a little more efficiently as one group,” he said, adding that it helped when meeting with elected officials because the community could speak in unison, and the electeds could speak to one group of citizens rather than meeting individually with each association in the coalition.
The focus of the meeting was more on constructive solutions, and the community seems truly interested in new approaches to traffic issues, said Barbarelli.
“There was more optimism here and less complaining,” he said, adding that EBTC wanted to encourage the community to come to them in the future with new proposals, ideas and solutions.
One of the more striking proposals of the evening came when Belifiore suggested in his presentation that legislation be created that would require developers to consider local road conditions before development and contribute to infrastructure improvements.
Joining concerned community members at the town hall-style meeting were representatives of elected officials: Congressman Joseph Crowley, Senator Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj and Councilman James Vacca.
The coalition is made up of members of the Throggs Neck Home Owners Association, Country Club Civic Association, Throggs Neck Merchants, Ferry Point Community Advocates, Locust Point Civic Association, Spencer Estate Civic Association, Waterbury LaSalle Community Association, City Island Civic Association, and Morris Park Community Association. Community Board 10 has a liaison on the committee.