A direct link for motorists travelling southbound on the Hutchinson River Parkway to the Hutchinson Metro Center is nearing reality.
Elected officials and community leaders, joined by the commissioners of the Parks Department and the NYC Department of Transportation and representatives from HMC’s developer Simone Development, met before the new year to discuss a traffic study that appears to be giving a green light to an off-ramp into the office complex, as well as other possible enhancements.
An attendee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said a key topic at the Friday, December 18 meeting was alleviating Parks Department concerns about losing parkland.
To exit into the Huthinson Metro Center from the Hutchinson River Parkway, the off-ramp would gobble up some parkland.
Senator Jeff Klein, who announced he had allocated $1 million in May 2015 for the DOT study, said that the meeting was for the stakeholders to express to the city how important this is for alleviating traffic on local roads.
“This is something that is extremely important to alleviate traffic that exists now, (as well as) future traffic, especially from the 911 Call Center that will be opening soon,” said Senator Klein.
Joseph Kelleher, president and chief of operations of Hutch Management LLC, which runs HMC, expressed gratitude for the meeting.
“We are extremely grateful to Senator Klein for bringing the DOT and Parks Department together with elected and community leaders to review plans for this important project that will not only benefit our development, which has grown to nearly two million square feet of medical, office, educational, retail and hospitality space over the past decade and created thousands of new jobs, but also the new 911 Call Center and future Metro North train station adjacent to our property,” said Kelleher.
Support for a new access road from the Hutch is growing from the inclusionary process of discussions with community leaders and community boards 10 and 11, and that a new road into the complex would alleviate traffic on nearby roadways, said Kelleher.
Assemblyman Michael Benedetto and Councilman James Vacca attended the meeting as well as members of the East Bronx Traffic Coalition, a consortium of civic groups concerned about traffic.
“I think this is a very good proposal for the Hutch Metro Center and the people working there, and the surrounding communities,” said the assemblyman.
The councilman recalled that under the previous mayoral administration, the off-ramp at this location was not open for discussion.
The feasibility study is the first step in getting the ramp, or any capital project, he said.
In addition to the ramp, the study is looking into creating a service road, and other enhancements.
“We have to identify where (the ramp) would go, and sewer conditions, drainage issues, tree removal issues if there are any,… cost,” said Vacca, adding “Anyone of us who has driven on Waters Place during rush hour knows…traffic has increased dramatically.”
John Marano, who represented CB 10 at the meeting, said the tone definitely sounded positive and he hopes to see follow-through.
The developments at HMC, as well as a $30 million allocation to rebuild a significant portion of I-95 in the vicinity of Pelham Parkway, bode well for the area, said John Doyle, EBTC member.
“I think its great our Federal and State legislators have secured funding to examine and address traffic congestion at both the Hutch Metro Center and along Interstate 95,” he said.