The city is launching a second round of public engagement sessions for its study to reimagine the Cross Bronx Expressway.
The study is supported by a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, which was announced in December. The initiative is a combined effort of the New York City health, planning and transportation departments and the New York state transportation department.
The city is seeking out ideas to alleviate the burden of the expressway on Bronxites, which has hurt in more ways than one.
Built between 1948 and 1963 under the auspices of famed planner Robert Moses, the expressway’s construction ripped apart neighborhoods, destroyed homes and displaced thousands. The busy highway has also caused disproportionately high asthma rates — and increased risk of other illnesses — in the South Bronx.
“This next round of engagement will enable us to pinpoint the issues most important to Bronxites, and we hope to build as big a tent as possible, so come one, come all!” said NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. “As we collaborate with Bronx communities, Governor (Kathy) Hochul, Mayor (Eric) Adams, our sister agencies, City and State Government officials, and every New Yorker impacted by this 20th century highway relic, we will work to seize this critical opportunity to right the wrongs of the past and reconnect communities divided by the Cross Bronx Expressway.”
The city announced in March it was launching the first round of public engagement sessions to inform the study, with two virtual and three in-person sessions that took place in late March and early April. These public meetings drew 250 attendees and more than 500 public comments, according to NYC DOT.
While some residents expressed a desire to see the expressway torn down, the study is aimed at identifying ways to improve what already exists, such as through capping, which would involve building space above the roadway.
While the first group of workshops was meant to drum up excitement about the project and identify what high-level concerns people have, this set of workshops will take a deeper look at those issues, a NYC DOT spokesperson told the Bronx Times.
Overall, attendees at the first round of meetings expressed a desire for access to open space, beautification, reconnecting communities, better air quality, less noise, less traffic congestion, public safety and better public transit connections, according to NYC DOT.
At the last virtual workshop on April 10, Elizabeth Hamby, the director of civic engagement at the NYC Department of City Planning, said that the agencies are looking for both immediate and long-term improvements.
The project team will also partner with members of the Community Working Group — which is made up of more than 20 community-based organizations that are helping guide the study — to visit sites of particular concern along the expressway. The goals of these site visits are to get more feedback and inspire future rounds of engagement, the spokesperson said.
The upcoming public meetings, which project organizers categorize as the first round of “issue identification workshops,” were initially scheduled to take place in April and May, but organizers adjusted the timeline in response to community requests for more advanced notice, a NYC DOT spokesperson told the Bronx Times.
The final plan is still expected to be released by the end of 2024.
- Thursday, June 8, 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. at PS 106 Parkchester at 1514 Olmstead Ave.
- Wednesday, June 14, 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. at East Bronx Academy for the Future, 1716 Southern Blvd.
- Tuesday, June 20, 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. at Bronx School of Young Leaders, 40 W. Tremont Ave.
- Wednesday, July 12 6 p.m.-8 p.m.
Attendees should RSVP for the workshops at bit.ly/CrossBronxEvents. For accessibility accommodations or translation services, contact the NYC DOT Bronx Borough Commissioner’s Office at (212) 748-6680 or email at [email protected]
Project organizers launched a new website for the initiative on Friday at crossbronx.info.
Reach Aliya Schneider at [email protected] or (718) 260-4597. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes