Bronx’s Sheridan Expressway approved for pedestrian-friendly overhaul

Plans to convert the Bronx’s Sheridan Expressway into a pedestrian-friendly boulevard have gotten the green light, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday. The expressway currently blocks swaths of the community from the Bronx River.

The Federal Highway Administration has approved New York State’s bid to de-designate the expressway as an interstate, meaning the state can now begin construction on a project to transform the previously obtrusive highway into a boulevard connecting surrounding communities to the river.

Construction is expected to kick off next week and conclude by the end of 2019.

“Converting the Sheridan Expressway into a neighborhood-friendly boulevard will not only improve the quality of life for deserving Bronx residents, it will also promote economic growth in the region for decades to come,” Cuomo said in a news release.

The $75 million project will result in a newly-fashioned boulevard complete with signaled crossings for pedestrians and cyclists at Jennings Street, East 172nd Street and East 173rd Street. The plans also include a two-way bike path along Edgewater Road to Starlight Park and the Bronx River Greenway. Within the park, a new pedestrian bridge will be built on the Bronx River.

Cuomo first announced the undertaking in March 2017 as part of a plan to re-imagine the ground-level expressway — a tainted piece of Robert Moses’ legacy from the 1960s that continues to haunt the South Bronx, cutting off access to the waterfront and funneling truck traffic through the community.

The plan has been praised by locals and community activists; however, some Bronx community groups have raised concerns over a related plan to ease truck travel to-and-from food distribution centers by allowing new entrances to the highway, stating the plan in its current form would increase congestion — and with it, contamination — along the Bronx River, which the community has worked to clean up and improve with park space.

The State Department of Transportation has stated the plan will cut down on congestion in residential areas, proving an overall boon to the surrounding community.