State reveals ‘backup’ plan/I-95 North improvements to end bottleneck

State reveals ‘backup’ plan/I-95 North improvements to end bottleneck
The asthma hospitalization rate for children in the Bronx is 70% higher than the rest of NYC and 700% higher than the rest of the state, largely due to adjacent roadways carrying hundreds of trucks daily.

Many a north bound traveller has spent too much time negotiating the roadway where the Bruckner Expressway meets the NYS Thruway. Now, a project to reduce that corridor’s congestion has received the go ahead and by 2022 the highway nightmare should be ‘a thing of the past’.

Since 2015, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, working with the NYS Department of Transportation, has successfully launched a $33 million traffic mitigation improvement plan along I-95 between Country Club Road, Pelham Parkway and the Hutchinson River Parkway.

Included in the plan is a new exit into Co-op City from the Hutch that will allow Co-op City bound drivers to stay on the northbound parkway, exiting onto the Hutchinson River Parkway West service road in Section 5.

Contracts will be awarded by year’s end with work commencing by the spring of 2020.

Major components of the project will include: adding a new travel lane north of exit 8B, which is currently an ‘Exit Only’ lane to City Island and Orchard Beach; improvements to the current I-95 and Pelham Parkway ramp configurations; as well as the new exit ramp on the Hutch to Co-op City.

“Most of the changes are directed at alleviating a lot of the I-95 (north) corridor backup that exist beginning around the Country Club Road exit and extends past Pelham Parkway,” said Benedetto, adding he applauded the NYSDOT plan for its “creativity and thinking outside of the box.”

Besides the volume of traffic on these roadways that necessitate the new measures, NYSDOT believes that the amount of entrances and exits on the I-95 north roadway over a short distance is a major factor contributing to the traffic slow down, indicated Benedetto.

The existing I-95 entrances at Pelham Bay Station and Pelham Parkway will be realigned to reduce the number of vehicular and pedestrian crossovers that cause the northbound bottlenecks.

In addition, traffic travelling east on Pelham Parkway will now have direct access to I-95 south, alleviating the traffic that is forced on St. Paul and other Pelham Bay streets by drivers trying to access I-95 South entrance at Buhre Avenue. Motorists will be able to stay on the parkway and make a left turn at a traffic light controlled intersection, onto a I-95 entrance ramp shared with Pelham Parkway West travellers.

NYSDOT also plans to add bicycle and pedestrian paths to “mitigate impacts and to create a benefit to the community.”

Part of those benefits will be a collaborative effort with NYC Department of Parks to install new, informational signage around the Bronx Victory Memorial, a World War I Memorial, that will increase the visibility of the statue to more passersby.

The improvements do not require any new large-scale infrastructure changes, but uses existing underutilized areas near the roadways and a new extended on-ramp to create new traffic patterns for the area. The new I-95 ramp will impinge slightly on the memorial’s grove.

“This is major,” said the assemblyman. “It is fully funded, there is no new infrastructure construction in this plan, and therefore, the contractor will be able to complete the improvements in a timely manner.”

A major re-construction of the highway would have driven the cost to over $100 million and taken 10 to 15 years to build.

While improving traffic flow is an obvious reason for the state to move forward with the project, increasing safety is another priority.

NYSDOT believes that reducing the amount of ramps in the entangled interchange will decrease both pedestrian and vehicular conflicts on and around I-95.

The project’s design will be available for public review during January and February at Bronx Borough hall, Community Board 10, Baychester Library, Pelham Bay Library and P.S. 160.

More from Around NYC