Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Big Unanswered Question: Traffic

While working to preserve the Bronx Terminal Market we have become intimately familiar with not only the merchant’s plight but the Related Companies redevelopment proposal. As we have pointed out previously, there are a number of unanswered questions concerning this plan, questions that can’t even be asked because of the lack of community education and input.

One of the biggest question marks with this Gateway proposal is its impact on traffic. Though Related plans to build over 1,000,000 sq. ft. of retail space there are few details about exactly how the greatly expanded number of trucks and cars will be able to get to and from the site. There is currently a lack of adequate access from the Major Deagan, a highway that already is a veritable parking lot most of the day. This situation will only get worse if the Gateway project is built.

Local roads will also become inundated as truck drivers and motorists seek alternative routes to get to the mall. The dangerous intersections at 161st and Grand Concourse and 149th at Grand Concourse will become even more so as the number of vehicles and delivery trucks expand considerable.

This increase in traffic also has significant environmental implications. For a neighborhood that already has the highest asthma rates in the country, what is going to happen to the air quality when trucks delivering to Gateway’s big-box tenants rumble down the Concourse or sit in traffic on the Deagan? What is going to happen to asthma rates as cars trying to enter the Gateway mall idle while waiting to enter one of its inadequacy few entrance points? These are questions that EDC and Related need to answer.

With Gateway being planned for the same time as the Yankee Stadium redevelopment, people and elected officials in the Bronx need to stand up to make sure that the enriching of a politically-connected developer does not trump the maneuverability, health and safety of a community. According to our sources, even City Planning has serious questions about how Related is planning to handle the new traffic flow. If the agency that certified the project is worried so should the community members who will have to deal with that nightmare for years to come.