A Bronx-based coalition is successfully leading the fight to transform the Sheridan Expressway and to create affordable housing and green open space where it used to be
For decades, the Sheridan Expressway – a 1.25 mile remnant of the Robert Moses era – has severely impeded the quality of life in Hunts Point and the surrounding communities in the South Bronx.
The Expressway restricts access to the revitalized Bronx River, new parks such as Concrete Plant Park and Starlight Park, and the South Bronx Greenway. It forces trucks to drive through neighborhood streets and cars to idle in traffic, harming pedestrians and restricting safe biking. Local asthma rates are among the highest in the nation and are exacerbated by poorly configured roadways in the area. Development around the Expressway is hampered by poor pedestrian and traffic connections, which limit the prospects for new affordable housing, small businesses, and jobs.
In 1999, the Southern Bronx River Watershed Alliance (SBRWA) was formed to work for the removal of the Sheridan Expressway and the transformation of the South Bronx into a model of sustainable land use, environmental justice, and economic viability. In addition to Pratt Center, SBRWA includes Mothers on the Move, The Point CDC, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, We Stay/Nos Quedamos, and Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice. We believe the transformation of land use around the existing Expressway provides great potential to save lives, improve environmental health, encourage climate resiliency, and support jobs and affordable housing in this distressed community.
In 2006, SBRWA initiated a visioning process that resulted in a community plan to transform the neighborhoods surrounding the Sheridan Expressway. This plan laid the foundation for New York City’s receipt of a $1.5 million competitive Federal grant in 2010 to study potential land use changes to the Sheridan Expressway corridor and Hunts Point area.
In June 2013, heavily influenced by SBRWA’s work, the City unveiled a series of land use recommendations that will begin a transformation of the Sheridan Expressway Corridor and surrounding neighborhoods— if City and State agencies advance the recommendations. In 2016, after 17 years of organizing and advocacy, Governor Cuomo announced $97 million toward the transformation of the at-grade portion of the Sheridan into a boulevard. Another major part of the plan, which would address the lack of direct vehicle access into the industrial portion of the Hunts Point peninsula, also requires implementation support.
Now, we have a unique opportunity to work with City and State officials to address decades of neglect and top-down planning by implementing a community- conceived and driven land use plan with broad consensus. SBRWA is continuing to advocate for an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) for the City’s highway and land use recommendations, build a broad base of political support for a shared vision of equitable development in the area, and continue to educate and mobilize community members around these crucial issues.