New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announces a $1.8 billion...

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announces a $1.8 billion revitalization proposal on Sunday, March 19, 2017, that would make changes to the Sheridan and Bruckner expressways. Credit: Steven Sunshine

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Sunday unveiled a $1.8 billion revitalization plan for the South Bronx that calls for converting the Sheridan Expressway into a pedestrian and cyclist-friendly boulevard and redesigning the Bruckner Expressway to improve vehicle access to the Hunts Point Market.

“It is a road construction project and a bridge project larger than anything we’ve taken on in the Bronx in decades,” Cuomo told an audience of Bronx elected officials and local residents gathered at the Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education where he outlined the proposal.

The plan calls for adding new lanes and exits to the Bruckner to provide trucks and vans with direct access to the Hunts Point distribution center that Cuomo’s office said draws nearly 78,000 vehicles per day.

Cuomo said the plan would alleviate congestion on local roads and make it easier for residents and visitors to reach waterfront park areas that have been blocked by the Sheridan Expressway for decades.

The governor noted that when the Sheridan, also designated Interstate 895, was originally designed it was meant to connect to I-95 by extending north to the New England Thruway, but those plans, which he said would have placed the expressway’s path “through the Bronx Zoo,” were modified. The Sheridan Expressway currently connects to the Cross Bronx Expressway portion of I-95, a configuration that has blocked off surrounding communities from vital park space along the Bronx River waterfront for decades, Cuomo said.

The proposal calls for removing the Sheridan Expressway’s designation as an interstate roadway to convert it into a local boulevard with pedestrian and cyclist crossings, wide medians, and landscaping, which Cuomo said would improve access to the waterfront and Starlight Park.

New entrance and exit ramps at Leggett Avenue would be added to the Bruckner Expressway’s westbound lanes to improve driver access to the Hunts Point Market, and a flyover ramp from Sheridan Boulevard would be constructed to feed traffic directly into the market, according to a description of the project provided by Cuomo’s office.

Cuomo’s aides said the plan would be completed and funded in phases — $700 million for the first phase is included in the governor’s proposed state budget that state lawmakers must vote on by April 1.

Under the plan, the Sheridan Expressway conversion to a boulevard would begin next year with a Spring 2019 completion date.

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