Federal $$ to zoo for transportation needs

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand unveiled a comprehensive plan to invest in New York infrastructure on Tuesday, July 28 and included close to $4 million for the Bronx Zoo. If the plan – part of a big-time bill advancing through Congress – is approved, the Bronx Zoo will add secure bicycle storage and an “intelligent traffic system” designed to reduce congestion inside and outside the zoo.

“We appreciate the support from Senator Gillibrand and the entire New York Congressional delegation,” said John Calvelli, a public affairs executive with the Wildlife Conservation Society. “The Bronx Zoo attracts more than two million visitors a year and the growing attendance means a need to mitigate traffic congestion.”

The zoo already boasts bike racks at its main entrances but the federal money would fund a security upgrade – possibly an enclosed bike storage area. The idea is to encourage alternative means of getting to and from the zoo, thereby diminishing pollution and congestion.

Intelligent traffic systems have been installed on many New York highways, including the Queens-Brooklyn Expressway; electronic signs offer up-to-date traffic information. The Gillibrand money would help the WCS install electronic signs in and around the zoo. The signs would alert zoo visitors to parking lot capacity and suggest alternative routes during rush hour. Not only zoo visitors but also neighborhood residents would benefit, Bronx Zoo spokeswoman Mary Dixon said.

The federal money would fund the relocation of a BxM11 bus stop to a more convenient site on the Bronx River Parkway as well. All told, the bike storage upgrade, intelligent traffic system and bus stop relocation would generate or retain more than 584 jobs, the WCS has stated.

“The Bronx Zoo is an international landmark and one of New York City’s greatest cultural attractions,” Gillibrand spokesman Glen Caplin said. “This federal investment will not only alleviate congestion…[it] will also reduce asthma rates and create good-paying jobs.”

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