Fordham Road gets needed facelift

The intersection of Fordham University, the Bronx Zoo and the New York Botanical Garden will be getting a make over.

Soon the city will begin a project to completely reconstruct a portion of Fordham Road, from Southern Boulevard to the Bronx River Parkway.

The $11.5 million project is expected to last about 18 months, but the end result should be a safer and more beautiful road, city officials said.

“They are going to make it much nicer for people that travel there on a daily basis,” said Community Board 6 district manager Ivine Galarza. “We have been very supportive of redoing that area since we first heard the idea. We’re especially excited it’s happening because the removal of those Jersey barriers is need. There were some safety issues with that and so that’ll be addressed.”

The upright, concrete road dividers will be replaced with a larger grassy median, similar to those seen in west Manhattan, city officials said. Along with the improved medians, the project will also include new lighting and curbing; planting additional trees and greenery around the road, and banking the roadway to increase safety.

According to officials with the city Department of Design and Construction, the Jersey barriers were added to the road as a temporary way to address safety concerns, but years later they remain the only safety tool between pedestrians and oncoming traffic.

“A lot of people use this road and the Jersey barriers just look horrible,” said Joseph Muriana, associate vice president of government and urban affairs at Fordham University. “There have been a number of crazy accidents there because people drive at high speeds there at night. It is really going to improve the looks and the road needs to have these safety improvements.”

Muriana said the university, along with the New York Botanical Garden, the Bronx Zoo and Montefiore Medical Center joined together to provide the conceptual design for the project about a year ago.

Although the city tweaked the plans in the final stages, the construction project addresses nearly everything the groups outlined in their early designs.

“We wanted raised beds on the sidewalk side,” Muriana said. “But the city determined it wouldn’t work. We accepted that they’re putting in granite curbs, but the main concerns about safety and banking the roadway were addressed.”

According to DDC officials, construction will only be done at night, and all four lanes of traffic will be maintained during the entire 18-month project.

“It will be a lot more attractive and it will be something that is pleasant for visitors to the different institutions in the area,” Muriana said. “We’re looking forward to construction and to this being over with as soon as possible.”

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