Pedestrians navigating the hilly slopes of the west Bronx will soon be able to do so safely.
The city began an $8 million reconstruction of the West Tremont Avenue Step Street connecting Cedar and Sedgwick avenues in Morris Heights with initial demolition on the pedestrian stairway and walkway starting on Thursday, April 26.
A ceremonial groundbreaking for the project, which is expected to be completed by fall of 2019, took place on Friday, May 4.
The staircase walkway, one 64 such ‘step streets’ in the borough, dates back to at least 1915, said Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson at the groundbreaking.
It serves as a vital link for Morris Heights residents seeking access to Roberto Clemente State Park as well as transit options like the community’s Metro-North station and the Bx18, Bx40 and Bx42 buses, said Gibson and other attendees.
The councilwoman said that the step street had been a top budget priority of Community Board 5 for years.
Gibson said that she was grateful that both the city Department of Transportation and Department of Design and Construction saw the importance of reconstructing it.
They may not always be seen as having the greatest priority, but they are vital in many of the communities she serves, said Gibson.
“Steps streets are vital thoroughfares for west Bronx residents and step street upkeep is critical for pedestrian and community safety,” said Gibson. “I’m thrilled that the West Tremont Avenue Step Street is receiving a much needed renovation and look forward to seeing a newer, safer and more beautiful staircase here in the future.”
The renovations will include new benches, 70 new granite steps with five pigmented concrete landings between them and new steel handrails.
Additionally, there will be landscaping, new grading and paving alongside the staircase on the 35-foot high step street.
New sewers will also be connected to a new drainage system in the step street, and part of the street at the foot of the staircase that leads to Sedgwick Avenue will see new sewers and catch basins.
“Sometimes we may take these things for granted, but they are so important,” said Congressman Espaillat, adding Morris Heights is one of the highest places in the city.
“The renovation project to revitalize the West Tremont Avenue Step Street will have a tremendous impact on the commercial corridor while improving pedestrian accessibility throughout the Bronx,” said Espaillat.
Ana Barrio, DDC acting commissioner, said in her remarks that the agency is looking forward to completing the project as quickly as possible and ensuring that it is on time.
Nivardo Lopez, Bronx DOT commissioner, said that he is glad the new step street will be in good repair “creating a safer, more efficient passageway for residents and visitors of the neighborhood.”
Ken Brown, CB 5 district manager, said the project is a necessary infrastructure improvement that is welcome.
At the groundbreaking, a moment was taken to congratulate DDC’s resident engineer on the project, Ketty Paulino, a Castle Hill resident named Young Government Civil Engineer of the Year by an engineers organization.
DDC’s Community Construction Liaison for this particular project is Lisa Alfred who can be emailed at wtrem