Throggs Neck residents say town halls for road diet are a façade

A screenshot from the meeting

For several months, Throggs Neck residents have spoken out against the planned road diet and bike lanes for East Tremont Avenue.

Yet in September, the Department of Transportation (DOT) began to put bike lanes and road diets on East Tremont Avenue from the Cross Bronx Expressway to Harding Avenue and on Harding Avenue from Emerson Avenue to Pennyfield Avenue.

The agency’s rationale is that these measures would reduce traffic and make streets safer. The proposals come after a man was injured in 2019 at East Tremont and Milton Avenues and a woman was killed in 2018 on East Tremont Avenue.

However, residents and elected officials said were expecting DOT to hold another meeting last month to discuss the planned work, so people were caught off guard when they saw work had begun without community consultation.

Hoping to delay further work on the project, Community Board 10 and Councilman Mark Gjonaj held town halls over the past few weeks where many people again expressed dissension with the project.

“From our perspective the objective was to get DOT to hear firsthand from people that would be impacted by the project and have that reflected in how the project moves forward,” said Reggie Johnson, Gjonaj’s chief of staff. “They were our town halls and they were meant to make sure the DOT understood the project’s impact. So we and the community attended them to make a difference. But with that said, the DOT may have attended the town hall just for show. That they’ll have to answer to.”

On Wednesday Oct. 14, the Bronx Times spoke with DOT who said the majority of the work on Tremont is finished and the work on Harding was paused during the last few days due to weather.

The DOT participated in the town hall to listen to the concerns about lighting and double parking but residents said it seemed nothing had changed when it came to the project.

“The meeting was productive, with several community members and members of the board speaking in favor of this project that aims to decrease speeding and improve safety for all street users in this area,the spokesman said.

DOT Borough Commissioner Nivardo Lopez expressed regret that the agency did not do better outreach to the community.

Over the summer Throggs Neck Business Improvement Director Bobby Jaen tore into the plan and he expressed similar sentiments during the community meetings with DOT.

He said that he was worried about trucks double parking while unloading food, adding that there must be better lighting or else people will get hurt and stressed the street is too narrow for bike lanes.

“The people and the merchants should have been talked to first before the road diets are put in,” he said. “I understand the mea culpas and sorrys, but it’s still a problem. This was done completely and utterly wrong. This is going to cost lives. You know it, I know it and everyone at this meeting knows it.”

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