The state has completed the conversion of the Sheridan Expressway into a new boulevard with better park and waterfront access, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced in Longwood on Wednesday.
The project is a small part of a $1.8 billion redevelopment plan of the South Bronx’s fraught highway network aimed to make the area and neighboring Hunts Point more pedestrian-friendly while also reducing pollution from truck traffic on local streets.
Crossing the new Sheridan Boulevard, pedestrians have access to Starlight and Concrete Plant parks via added crosswalks at 173rd, 172 and Jennings streets along with other pedestrian havens.
Cuomo spoke grandly of the project as a way to address the “mistake” master planner Robert Moses made when he razed Bronx communities to make way for highway construction.
“What you did is you cut the community off from the waterfront—and then when you built all these highways, what you did was you brought a lot of truck traffic,” Cuomo said during an event near the project. “And the truck traffic came into these communities. the common denominator for many of these communities: they were poorer communities, poorer places.”
The Sheridan Expressway’s original design was planned to diagonally cut across the Bronx and link up with I-95 in Co-op City in the city’s most northeast point, but that was condensed into a 1.3 mile expressway that’s become an extended entry ramp for the Cross Bronx Expressway near E. 177th Street.
Fortunately for drivers on the newly revamped boulevard, new entrance and exit ramps have also opened to alleviate one of the densest spots of roadway congestion in the borough.
Local groups have pushed back on that parts of the project, specifically regarding the ongoing work to add several entrance and exit ramps to the confusing interchange that the elevated Bruckner Expressway and Sheridan intersect at. The state touts that this will provide a more direct route for the 78,000 vehicles traveling daily to and from the industrial peninsula.
The speed limit has also been reduced from 50 mph to 30 mph, but with five lanes of traffic and a center median, the boulevard remains somewhat daunting to cross after its $75 million makeover.
Many of them are handling truckloads of deliveries to and from the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center, the largest such facility in the world, according to the state.