The last wishes of a community leader who called for traffic improvements in his neighborhood may soon be granted.
The Pelham Bay Taxpayers and Community Association, and the East Bronx Traffic Coalition, a consortium of community activists concerned with traffic matters, are pushing for the study of four ideas from the late Joseph Oddo to ease traffic flow around Pelham Parkway South, Burr Avenue and Amendola Plaza in Pelham Bay.
Representatives from the two groups appealed to Community Board 10 at their Municipal Services Committee meeting on Tuesday, April 14.
The board will forward their request onto the city Department of Transportation without comment, said CB 10 district manager Ken Kearns.
The groups are asking that DOT produce a detailed analysis of each of Oddo’s proposals. Once this is done, a community forum format could be used to gather more input, they said.
“In the end, it would be a fitting tribute to Joe if something in the study did come to fruition,” said Michele Torrioni, president of the PBTCA, who was elected to that position after Oddo’s passing in March.
Just before he died, Oddo wrote a letter DOT on behalf of PBTCA outlining what he would like to have done to ease the flow of traffic, much of which he believed was destined for Co-op City, through the streets of Pelham Bay between the Hutchison River Parkway and Bruckner Boulevard.
These included changing Westchester Avenue between Burr Avenue and Bruckner Boulevard into a two-way street to allow traffic to access I-95 and Pelham Parkway without going through Amendola Plaza.
The plaza is a site of numerous bus stops and a cab stand for commuters leaving the subway at Pelham Bay Station.
Oddo also proposed making the Wilkinson Avenue overpass over Bruckner Expressway two-way, allowing residents from Throggs Neck, Country Club and Spencer Estate to reverse direction without going through the congested plaza.
Of all the proposals, Torrioni said she believes that changing the Wilkinson Avenue overpass to two-ways is the most feasible.
This would allow locals to access streets like Sands or Arnow places, or even Middletown Road, without adding more traffic at the station, she said.
Oddo’s plans also called for the creation of a turning lane on Burr Avenue for a mandatory left turn onto Westchester Avenue, and also making two defined lanes on Burr Avenue to make it clear who can turn left or right onto Westchester Avenue.
“The traffic is so bad,” said Annie Boller, a Waterbury-LaSalle Community Association board member and traffic coalition member, “that we just have to try something new.”
Oddo was known for his big ideas, said John Doyle of the East Bronx Traffic Coalition, and some of them may not be feasible. Nevertheless, there may be value in others, he said.
“In recognition of Joe’s life and legacy, I cannot think of a more fitting tribute than studying the proposal, and then bringing people together to discuss these ideas,” he said. “Joe was a big thinker, and the proposal reflects this attitude.”
If Oddo were alive, he would not let these ideas fall by the wayside, and neither should the community now that he is gone, added Doyle.