The Hutchinson Metro Center could someday get its own exit ramp off the Hutch.
The idea will be explored with a $1 million study by the NYC Department of Transportation to address the issue of increased traffic driven by the development.
Senator Jeff Klein announced the funding of the project at the Hutchinson Metro Center on Friday, May 1.
“We wanted to figure out a way to alleviate traffic, and make sure there is not an undue burden on the surrounding communities,” said Klein at the announcement alongside Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, the DOT commissioner Polly Trottenberg, president of Simone Metro Properties Joe Kelleher and community leaders.
The study will examine the feasibility of and develop a conceptual plan to construct a new southbound access ramp to the Hutch Metro Center via the Hutchinson River Parkway, in addition to the creation of a service road and two way-public street connecting to the complex.
Community activists from groups including the East Bronx Traffic Coalition, the North-East Bronx Association, and community boards 10 and 11 celebrated the news after months of calling for attention to the increased traffic in the area as a result of the development, which is still growing.
The Marriot Hotel will open this month, the 550,000-square-foot 911 call center adjacent to the the campus has yet to be completed, and in February Simone Development announced a 33-acre expansion of the center which will include a second hotel, retail, and office space, among other uses.
As it stands, the Hutch Metro Center’s tenants have created 8,000 jobs in the Bronx, said Klein.
“We need to create jobs,” he said. “And at the same time we have to recognize the strong, vibrant communities in the Bronx and make sure we protect them.”
Trottenberg echoed Klein in explaining the need for the study, which will comprehensively examine traffic in and around the development.
“We need to figure out what we can do to make sure this complex thrives economically while taking into consideration the needs of the community,” she said.
The residential neighborhoods surrounding the Hutchinson Metro Center has seen a significant influx of traffic as a result of the development, said NEBA director and CB 11 Transportation Committee chair Vincent Prezioso, and he expects the situation to worsen as the complex grows.
“Developers are building, but not addressing transportation issues,” said Prezioso about the problem.
Answering the question of why the developers are not funding the infrastructure improvements, the senator said it was the responsibility of the city and state, and he felt it was important to secure the funding.
“Anything that deals with public roadways is public dollars,” said Klein. “I think a study and the ultimate structural improvements to alleviate traffic is money well spent.”
The study is planned to be completed in the next 12 months, and although it will likely be years before any improvements are made, Prezioso is optimistic that the project will produce results.
“We’re very hopeful this study is going to provide the solution to our problem.”