Monday, November 30, 2009

I-87 Cromwell Avenue Tunnel

Mott Haven, Bronx, N.Y. Major Deegan Expressway
An alternative proposal not yet considered...
Cut and cover tunnel to boast waterfront access, development, cut air pollution via filtration

Groups as the Tri State Transportation Campaign Streetsblog and Mark Groton's Streetsblog Sell the Bronx Short for speeding cul de sac waterfront along wall of the existing elevated highway, that will hem in the Deegan, intensify traffic congestion -- remember that the Nov 2009 NYSDOT decision is to NOT preserve space for the ramp widening by allowing development placing some 10,000 new residents adjacent to this highway which should be buried and filtered -- hence instead maintaining this devise elevated highway for the next half-century.

Such planning that hems in the highway makes burying that highway far more expensive to construct- a matter officially UNconsidered.

Such is but what could become a future text book example of an intrinsically detrimental dogmatic stance against highways here used to prevent them from considering more environmentally friendly highway designs
- such as the concept of filtrated tunnels, for what would be the I-87 Cromwell Avenue Tunnel.

Cromwell Avenue runs from Yankee Stadium at a southwesterly angle towards and then along the riverfront, parallel and actually closer to the adjacent River Avenue, ending unceremonially beneath the existing I-87 viaduct, running into Exterior Street which continues southward paralleling the southbound side of I-87 as its service road, that’s fed by the southbound ramp from I-87 just north of the intersection/interchange with 138th Street, where this off-ramp and service road traffic has a traffic light intersection traffic often backs traffic onto I-87.

Immediately south of this interchange where I-87 transitions to a short underpass, I-87 curves to the east, rising up again as an elevated highway before encountering higher topography where it becomes depressed passing beneath Willis Avenue. Much of the southbound I-87 Deegan off-ramp traffic at the interchange with 138th Street continues ‘straight’ along the Deegan service road in order to make the right turn onto the Willis Avenue Bridge into Manhattan.

Project would reconstruct Cromwell Avenue, and area surface streets with this segment of I-87 to run in new cut and cover tunnel extending from approximately 150th Street southward to reconstructed underpass beneath 138th Street. Project would take cost advantage via being built BEFORE mass development, employing existing industrial properties alongside the existing I-87 (further facilitating construction by allowing maintaining traffic) for constructing the new southbound I-87 tunnel box, which would temporarily handle both directions of traffic while the existing I-87 viaduct is torn down and the northbound box constructed.

Project would likewise submerge the new widened ramps, while providing a tunnel box conduit for the straight through southbound service road traffic to bypass the surface on the way to the Willis Avenue Bridge, providing for a southern extension of Cromwell Avenue atop and then swinging to the south side of I-87 as it turns east, improving pedestrian accessibility to the waterfront with the tunneled southbound ramp, and overall local accessibility towards the southernmost waterfront with the Cromwell Avenue extension. Project would include I-87 reconstruction with sections of urban decks atop I-87 between 138th Street and the Metro North RR there terracing down towards the waterfront, and in the vicinity of Willis Avenue. The I-87 Cromwell Avenue Tunnel would effectively extend continuously from about the Grand Concourse to approximately 150th Street on the approach to Yankee Stadium[s].

Project would open up acres and acres of new land for public use and private development, with footings designed to support development (buildings) atop the highway tunnel to hence allow greater developable square footage, with funds from the sale of air rights. It would also reduce air pollution by employing a tunnel’s ability to trap emissions with filtration systems, respectively locally and regionally with increased capacity for the ramps (needed to address the current levels of congestion and the future levels of traffic at that 138th Street interchange with 10,000 new residents within this new Harlem Riverfront Development), and the mainline (with a minimum of 4 lanes in each direction for its importance and scarcity as a major north-south artery into NYC and through the southern Bronx, feeding Queens County, Long Island and beyond via such things as the Hunts Point Terminal, a major industrial area featuring not only numerous scrap yards, but also the large food distribution businesses that live off of truck accessibility, particularly as a parallel alternative to the underutilized Sheridan Expressway which requires such traffic to also use the highly over-utilized western portion of the Cross Bronx Expressway. As widening that later road would be far costlier, and displace thousands of residences, encouraging some of its traffic to divert to a widened lower I-87 that ran in a filtrated tunnel continuously southward form say 150th Street to the Metro North RR would reduce traffic emissions, and hence asthma rates, not even taking into account the increasing prevalence of cleaner and cleaner automobiles.

A project precedent, in design and size: Cincinatti, Ohio’s waterfront interstate highway ‘Fort Washington Way’ reconstruction, which replaced a 1950s design 6 lane depressed freeway (with sloped embankments and frequent ramps) with a 1990s design 8 lane depressed freeway within a ¾ concrete box with vertical retaining walls designed to support the addition of a roof to make it a full cut and cover tunnel. This stageability makes it more affordable over time.

Photos below from:

The City of Cincinnati tapped PB for a $150 million reconfiguration of the 1.5-kilometer (0.9-mile) Fort Washington Way interstate connector. As the city reconsidered the project, it added an additional $160 million of new viaducts, ramps, improvements, watermain replacements and an underground transit center—without extending the original schedule.

The efficent tunnel box design creates low cost underground space beneath the freeway's service roads.

Illustrations below from:

Tunnel box allows superior space utilatilation for freeway and adjoining developement, with sound containment of tunnel ideal for accomodating greater real estate developement within close proximity

The NYC area is hardly altogether unfamiliar with the concept of building highway below, notably with portions of the East River (FDR) Drive as well as the now under construction Riverside South Boulevard extension box tunnels for the future relocation of the 9A Henry Hudson Parkway. As such it has had proposals for so effectively burying significant segments of essentially that latter highway’s southern extension (the 1974-1985 ‘Westway" project of the West Side Highway largely in concrete box tunnels through new landfill), and later for that same highway’ continuation from Manhattan (2002-2005 proposed ‘West Street Tunnel’), and into Brooklyn (the 1996+ Gowanus Expressway Tunnel project then championed by the Regional Plan Association, and even written about favorably by such organizations as Tri State Transportation Campaign, that was to be routed paralleling the existing highway viaduct beneath 3rd or 2nd Street, but now planned instead to run directly along the waterfront. All said and done, it has been the Riverside South project that has began, with its favorable attributes rendering its construction to be relatively inexpensive. Its advantages included:

- out of the way of traffic
- no utility relocation
- no excavation, as a concrete box on land, with its open space to the west sculpted with earthen fill creating a sloped hill – a grassy knoll – up to the Riverside South Boulevard now on the surface.


Funding the tunnel shell now (rather than building it in 10-15 years from now) will:

• Avoid the disruption to the local community resulting from the need to dig up part of the new Riverside Boulevard and the newly constructed Riverside South Park in order to achieve the relocation;

• Save $50 million by avoiding the costs to dig up and rebuild Riverside South Park and Riverside Boulevard; and

• Utilize the $60 million being invested by the developer to build the northbound lane and the land contributed by the developer needed to construct the southbound lane as the required 20% local share of any federal funding - no State or City matching funds will be required for the highway relocation.

Significantly, with the $110 million savings ($60 million contributed by the developer and $50 million in savings) resulting from the early construction of the tunnel shell, the cost of the refurbishing alternative and the relocation alternative will be approximately equal.

The immediate funding needed to complete the southbound lane of the tunnel shell between 62 nd and 67th Streets before building the park, is about $94 million. This project is shovel ready and should be considered for funding under the Federal stimulus funding program and/or the City should require Extell to provide funding for the for the relocation. We have asked the Governor and the Mayor for the funding to build the tunnel shell in coordination with construction of the buildings and park by the developer - the work that can be completed during the next two years.

Through the efforts of a bipartisan group of Congressmen and Senators (including Senators Schumer and Clinton and Congressman William Green, Sue Kelly and Jerrold Nadler) over several years, $21 million in Federal earmarked funds have been made available. $5.7 million has been spent on the EIS and engineering work and $15.3 remains available. We need the cooperation of our senators and congressman to make these funds available for building the most southern section of the tunnel shell and the park, which will not be completed during the next two years.

That contrasts favorably with the 2002-2005 NYSDOT designs for the proposed "West Street Tunnel", a cut and cover tunnel beneath an existing street, with its significant utility conflicts increasing the construction costs, notably a sewer pipe that actually could have been avoided.

An I-87 Cromwell Avenue Tunnel (I-87 CAT) enjoys the most favorable combination of factors of any tunnel requiring excavation.

- out of the way traffic, via staged construction starting with new southbound I-87 CAT within the now lightly developed industrial properties alongside I-87’s western (southbound) side.
- Little or no additional utility relocation or building removal as the I-87 CAT Project employees the footprint of existing industrial land that has been recently re-zoned for high rise development, with its cut and cover design accommodating footings for maintaining planned developable square footage.
- Opportunity to reconnect lower Grand Concourse area up to the Yankee Stadium Park with the waterfront via I-87 CAT
- Opportunity to reduce air pollution via highway tunnel filtration, locally in the vicinity of Mott Haven, and further away particularly along the western portion of the stressed Cross Bronx Expressway, as an alternate route to the Hunts Point area then the former which is used in conjunction with the Sheridan Expressway.
- An opportunity hence to improve in every way a critically important north-south highway into NYC.

All of these benefits are thwarted with NYSDOT’s reported November 20, 2009 decision to defer any increase in the capacity of the I-87 ramps at its interchange with 138th Street until after the area is built out. Note that the proposed development district extends right up to the edge of the existing I-87 viaduct, leaving precious little space for ramp expansion, only worsening the congestion and pollution along a 1930s design Major Deegan Expressway at one of the most congested interchanges where new real estate development adds 10,000+ new residents and untold numbers of vehicles, while requiring any tunnel replacement to be built directly beneath the existing viaduct, likely increasing the costs by 100s of millions of dollars.

There’s has apparently been no consideration of a tunnelization of Mott Haven I-87, not even amongst those citing asthma rates, with no mention of tunneling nor tunnel filtration as already done overseas.

List of such places with filtrated road tunnels

Why then not any of the highways in the Bronx?

By spouting doctrine they neglect imagination…

Chock the Deegan!

Cram This-

Next To This!
without leaving room for wider ramps
while adding perhaps 10,000 new residents

NYSDOT sought to spend $240-340 million to reconstruct the elevated I-87 Major Deegan Expressway segment --- widening its ramps to and from the north to 138th Street

Let’s continue to ignore the broadest segments of society:

- continue to settle for maintaining the wall of the elevated freeway, regardless of # of lanes
remains an elevated wall separating people from the waterfront
- continue to neglect motorists, particularly bus drivers and truckers by not bringing the lane widths
up to standard when we have the chance

Let’s make more of a traffic mess:

- don’t expand the 138th Street ramps
- then add 10,000 new residents and consequently many more vehicles there

Let’s hurt the South Bronx’s economic competitiveness

- chock Hunts Point by constraining the Deegan Expressway and its ramp capacity, especially while calling for eliminating the largely parallel Sheridan Expressway

All by allowing organizations which dogmatically oppose any highway expansion, and which almost always neglect calling for more advanced types of highway design for better harmonizing highways into the areas they pass through.

Manhattan’s East Side has its East River Drive beneath parkland
Manhattan’s West Side has its Miller Highway Tunnels beneath Riverside South boulevard
South Bronx’s Mott Haven gets to maintain its Elevated Deegan Expressway segment wall off its waterfront

Let’s treat the South Bronx like a series of afterthoughts

- first construct new high value waterfront real estate development bringing in 10,000 new residents
- leave precious little space for more capacious ramps, nor for lowering the wall, aka depressing and covering this segment of I-87 making such way more expensive then doing in coordination, such as done with Manhattan’s Riverside South

Don’t even dare consider an I-87 Deegan tunnel for Mott Haven

- that would be significantly easier and less expensive to coordinate rather then construct as an afterthought later
- that would eliminate the wall, allowing greatest local access to the waterfront
that would facilitate pollution reduction with the tunnel trapping emissions and equipped with filtration as done overseas
- that would reconcile industrial trucking access needs with more capacity and local waterfront neighborhood environments and with extra capacity serve to relieve the highly congested western Cross Bronx Expressway
- that could be funded with lobbying for future economic stimulus funds- in the spirit of the slogan ‘yes we can!’

but that would take months if not a few years more to plan out, hence delaying the new real estate development projects

Just continue to defer to organizations as the "Tri State Transportation Campaign" and Streetsblog, and the calaphony of lock-step march organizations so disdainful of highways they can’t suggest better designs, and that have steered the ‘debate’ along with a not very imaginative nor necessarily forthcoming NYSDOT hierarchy.

Illustrations: TSTC logo, Mark Gorton on bike and closeup

Rather its about some powerful entity wanting to build something and perhaps do so quickly perhaps before some pivotal figure’s death

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Policymaking Steered to Maintain Wall of Elevated Freeway-
via delaying planning until after massive developments constricts
I-87 Major Deegan Expressway expansion
making any expansion
or undergrounding far more expensive

NYSDOT Caves In:

Chalk up another one to those that run things.

They hold a single meeting that was not well advertised to the public, particularly those that use the road -- I-87 --, and the meeting is somehow packed with opponents (remember that it was not well advertised).

Despite the clear precidents nearby -- say portions of the upper East River Drive, and the Riverside South Boulevard-Tunnel project -- as well as those overseas in employing highway tunnels to reduce pollution via trapping such and treating it within filtration systems -- the people stirred to fight the NYSDOT proposeal to expand the elevated Deegan Expressway apparantly have never given any consideration to applying such for Mott Haven: instead they act as if steered to simply approve of maintaining the wall of the elevated expressway in compliance with the wishes of some factrion[s] desirious of a new pricy enclave between the elevated highway and the waterfront. They even would act as if a few hundred square feet of space at Mott Haven somehow justified chocking truck access upon an invaluable alternative to the jammed western Cross Bronx Expressway-Sheridan Expressway (the latter which they seek to eliminate) of the South Bronx's major industrial employer area- Hunts Point with its regional food distribution- somethng unconsidered by The Day After Tommorow. And everyone within the government and the well organized-orchastrated 'activist' groups, acts as if that were just so unimportant, with sloganeering a substitute for critical thinking and imagination-application.

Of course NYSDOT need not even consider the cost differences between doing a project now while there's a swath of virtually open industrial wastelands alongside, rather then a few years later with new condo towers build up to the previous building lines, hemming in expansion even for the ramps, while adding 1,000s of new redents and vehicles upon the unwidened ramps.

They apparantly don't even post the plans to the internet.

Then they notify the public through a private conversation confirming the decision, reportedly made November 20, but announced only today, 5 days later, with someone at Mark Gorton's Streetsblog.

The DOT capitulated at a meeting on Nov. 20 requested by the Bronx Borough President’s office, which brought together representatives of the state agency with staff of the city Department of City Planning department, members of Community Board 1 and local elected officials.

“We don’t want to be a bad neighbor in that area,” said Levine, the DOT’s director of public affairs. “What we heard from the community was that the widening would impede” waterfront development.

“They were very clear that at some point they will revisit the issue,” said Sam Goodman, a planner in the Borough President’s office, but not until the rezoning plan has a chance to spur development. Once the area has been built out, the state will consider its options again. In the meantime, said Goodman, other traffic-calming measures will be looked at.

Also see:

Monday, November 23, 2009

Activism Steered to Maintain Wall of Elevated Freeway
for quickly building a planned enclave

NY I-87 Major Deegan Expressway Expansion,
Mott Haven, Bronx (waterfront south of Yankee Stadium)

Enlargened ramps would conflict with towers at center-right
(illustration above incorrectly shows I-87 passing over 138th Street)

NYSDOT plans would widen I-87/138th Street ramps, and widen I-87 northward to the McCombs Bridge with a single auxiliary lane per direction, infringing upon portions of adjacent industrial wastelands recently re-zoned for residential towers.

Project area in red

The reaction is to oppose expansion, per se, regardless of how needed, and to so harp upon capacity that they end up distracted, ignoring highway design, despite stated concerns regarding the waterfront development as well as local pedestrian access. From this appear two main points:

- Would conflict with planned waterfront development- councilperson -

"I feel it will deny the community the ability for the first time in our history to develop our waterfront," said Community Board 1 District Manager Cedric Loftin. "We're sick over it and opposed to it."

Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. joined that opposition, saying: "It would preclude residential development with public esplanade access along the only location down by the Harlem River waterfront with sufficient land to do so.

see more-

- We do not need highways or highway expansion, even ramps; we need jobs-

"It benefits commuters headed from Westchester County to Manhattan, not residents of the south Bronx,"

Johnson said. Leila Lopez, a Monroe College student, agreed.

“What’s the point of a better commute when we don’t have jobs?” Lopez asked. “What’s the point of a highway when we don’t have cars? We don’t need a highway. We need jobs. Spend [the $250 million] to create jobs.”

Do either of these sentiments go deep enough to serve their interests more broadly, as if a
good highway system mattered little to the South Bronx's major employeement area of the Hunts Point District that helps feed the region, or rather more narrowly, via a beholden dogma strictly against any highway expansion, regardless of how well justified as well as designed?

Confining the highway will deny the ramp widening, maintaining and worsening traffic jams. It will also maintain the existing separation of the existing highway.

Getting rid of the highway as the college student might be implying – perhaps inspired by campaigns as this and this – is not going to help create jobs beyond the ‘construction’ phase of the removal and replacement with a boulevard and high priced housing: something which NYC is far more in abundance with then say interstate highways. I-87 is a vital interstate highway link, from its southern end at the approaches to the Triborogh/RFK Bridge northward, with that segment to I-95 – that segment including the Yankee Stadium area – serving as a valuable traffic route alternative to jammed CBE and the less utilized Sheridan Expressway. Beyond that created by construction projects – jobs by that definition temporary for that local – have people as that college student ever frequented places as Hunts Point, South Bronx’s major food terminal and distribution center, home of numerous scrap yards and observed that commercial area’s lifeline of trucks which use primarily – its your choice – the surface streets or the grade separated highways – aka the freeways. Cities don’t work like the movie The Day After Tomorrow where no one seems to go hungry in a Manhattan flooded and frozen over for months with nothing coming in. They have to be feed, with much of the food going through places as Hunts Point, something the elites behind such lock-step organizations as Straphanger’s Campaign, Transportation Alternatives and Tri State Transportation Campaign have a callous disregard.

They like to say either or – street grids not freeways as if the two were intrinsically incompatible- when that's not the case, but rather a cover for diverting traffic away from wealthier areas and through the less affluent ones.

A key consequence of this doctrinaire attitude against urban freeways is the distraction from imagining better designs, not only for the unbuilt links, but as well those built and decried by new urbanists and others- with examples of new urbanists calling for preserving elevated urban freeway segments. Some areas, particularly within and near Washington, D.C. are notoriously subversive of ideas to harmonize highways within the urban environment.

Better then maintaining an existing wall along what is planned to be built along the highway’s adjacent currently industrial properties between it and the Harlem River, what about effectively eliminating to better allow waterfront redevelopment via depressing and covering a portion of reconstructed I-87, with the ramp modifications needed to reconcile both commuter and more local concerns. Let us go beyond thinking about simply some lengthened ramps feeding into an additional highway lane upon the existing Robert Moses era highway configuration.

A better approach- look at Manhattan’s Riverside South boulevard atop a box tunnel for the future Henry Hudson Parkway/Miller Highway relocation. As the article notes, the relocation is decades into the future, noting that the existing elevated highway segment was reconstructed around 1990. However, building portions of this future highway box tunnel now makes sense as being far easier and cheaper to construct before the area is initially constructed- synchronizing roadway and utilities constructions avoiding millions in wasteful demolition.

Since the area alongside the southbound I-87 Major Deegan Expressway lanes – IOW the area between the Deegan and the Harlem River – is now essentially wide open industrial waste, with the few industrial buildings envisioned to be removed by any planning – whether NYSDOT’s project here, or the ---- re-zoning, which envisions 10,000 new residents living in new relatively high rise buildings in this waterfront area northwards from 138th Street to 145th Street, plan it all together. Build a new box tunnel here alongside the existing Deegan for the southbound lanes, shift the traffic into the new tunnel, demolish the existing Deegan and build the northbound tunnel, with footings between each direction of tunnel to support new buildings alongside a new waterfront boulevard. This would be far easier to construct now then say in 50 years with the area built up as envisioned, while providing a far more pleasant local environment. Rather then along an elevated 6 lane I-87, imagine a covered 8 lane I-87, with ramps crossing beneath 138th Street hence removing a great deal of the vehicular traffic from pedestrian crosswalks, and with footings allowing even buildings directly atop the covered, encased freeway. With this coordination, there’s extra capacity for development, highway and local waterfront access.

In re-imaging portions of lower I-87 as cut and cover tunnels. the two most favorable candidates for consideration are:

Willis Street Plaza: new cover built atop existing depressed I-87 segment in vicinity of Willis Street and Triborogh/RFK Bridge approaches. As such it requires no change in the grade of the existing highway roadways, and hence is the least expensive segment of new underground I-87. 138th Street Plaza: new cut and cover underpass beneath and to the north of a 138th Street featuring a new plaza atop the covered highway segment with the ramps reconstructed largely underground, with a southbound ramp from I-87 to the southbound service road passing beneath 138th Street hence reducing vehicular-pedestrian conflict towards the waterfront. This replaces the existing I-87 configuration which quickly dips down to pass in a short underpass crossing beneath 138th Street from a viaduct to the north with short ramps that go to a traffic light intersection with 138th Street, with this underpass configuration extension northward, necessitating bringing down a portion of the elevated segment.

With the existing swath of industrial properties between this segment of I-87 and the Harlem River envisioned for clearing by both NYSDOT’s proposal as well as that for new waterfront development, it is practical to lay the foundation for a combined transit-highway-development and parkland planning with a new cut and cover tunnel Hypothetical options include:

Option A: Depress and cover to 144th Street- a minimum option facilitating development in the 138th-145 Street area

Option B: Depress and cover to 148th Street- an intermediate option facilitating development and waterfront access in the 138-148th Street area

Option C: Depress and cover to 155th Street- go for it, a “Yankee Village” waterfront development. This would be the most ambitious, yet still less expensive to build sooner then later particularly if new buildings are placed alongside in close proximity.

The above are the two likeliest areas as either existing depressed, or such with ample area to transition configuration.

The topography for undergrounding the entire segment between in the area near that punctuated by the Metro North RR and Grand Concourse roadways and extending towards the existing dressed segment near Willis Street would, in contrast, require far more earth removal, leading to consideration of reconstructing the elevated freeway with a friendlier streetscape, with a ramp from the Bruckner to the inbound Willis that passes beneath the service road, hence further reducing vehicular-pedestrian conflict towards the waterfront.

A covered upgraded I-87 would serve the most.

Covered it would not be seen, hear or smelt.

Covered, it would better allow development, as well as improve the quality of life for everyone else in the southern Bronx, as noise travels upward. Footings could allow new buildings to be built partially atop the new underground highway segment, offsetting the added width of the added capacity (which would also serve the added auto population of the not yet as of this writing built new developments.

Covered, its additional capacity would lack the adverse affects of the existing highway configuration in the denser urban environment, and serve to reconnect the area broadly.

With the extra capacity, taking it from 3 to 4 lanes per direction, providing for an even 2+2+4 lane match at the approaches, plus a merge lane between I-95 and the Triborogh/RFK Bridge, the new lower I-87 would better serve as a bypass for the Cross Bronx Expressway, for the industrial areas as Hunts Point, and beyond into Queens, Brooklyn and Long Island, and for accommodating the new residences, starting with those envisioned by the new waterfront planning.

Now it would be most cost effective, while we have the existing industrial swath to work with, facilitating and easing construction as a foundation for the new real estate development to come alongside and even in places atop. Let’s not create another waterfront enclave, something less an extension of the street grid and more of a cul de sac thing, with a chocked current design Major Deegan Expressway remaining as a barrier.

Alas, the imagination-less with regard to highway design lock-step groups are set out to steer the 'debate' by actually keeping a wall along the southwestern Bronx Waterfront- all for the sake of a more quickly developed enclave:

Don't Waste Money On Expanding the Major Deegan

The New York State Department of Transportation wants to widen a section of the Major Deegan Expressway in the Bronx, a project they estimate could cost up to $343 million by the time construction is complete. This will cut off access to the waterfront for Bronx residents and jam more traffic through the area.

Money for the Deegan could be used within the Bronx in ways that will improve quality of life. The State DOT is considering removing the nearby Sheridan Expressway and replacing it with affordable housing and mixed-use development. But the Sheridan project, which could dramatically improve the quality of life in Bronx neighborhoods pummeled by truck traffic, is only getting $2 million over the next five years.

The Deegan does need to be rehabilitated. But wider ramps and new highway lanes aren't part of that. A true rehabilitation would save the state millions of dollars that could be used for worthier causes.

A State DOT spokesperson has said “We won’t do it [the Deegan] if we hear from the community and elected officials. We’ll take the money elsewhere.” Send this letter and tell State DOT Commissioner Stan Gee and the Deegan project team that this is exactly what they should do.

Interesting how they tie it to the removal of the Sheridan Expressway - a parallel yet far shorter freeway to the east that in conjunction with the highly congested western portion of the Cross Bronx Expressway, serves as a major truck route to Hunts Point.

Given how jammed the western portion of the CBE is, why have not they even studied diverting some of that traffic — paticularly the thousands of Hunts Point bound trucks along an expanded I-87 that would be largely buried in such box tunnels where the traffic emissions would be trapped and filtrated, as done overseas to reduce local air pollution (but somehow never even mentioned by within the U.S. critics of urban highways, nor by any if those citing asthma in the Bronx).

And from a comments board:

· Michael Bongiovi

November 23rd, 2009 at 3:11 pm

Dear Sir or Madame,

Please do not expand the MDE… at this time the Bronx needs the money for other uses (such as improved public transit); and local residents need to be able to reach the renewable waterfront. Please help our Bronx community – not motorists speeding by.
Sincerely, Michael Bongiovi

[Address removed -- Michael, we'll forward this message on to State DOT. -Steven Higashide]

A click on the link for Michael Bongiovi goes to Fordham University "The Jesuit University of New York".

Jesuit Fordham has long been active in the sort of dogmatic anti freeway agitating, as so with their Georgetown University Law Center, and such long allies as the "Committee of 100 on the federal City" and the powerful Washington, D.C. law firm Covington & Burling, with prominent Jesuits as California's Jerry Brown long adhering to 'guilting' people over the widespread ownership and use of automobiles.

And from another comments board:


9:13:50 AM
Nov 9, 2009

The state's 50-year-long effort to destroy the city and have everyone move out to the suburbs continues. No surprises there. What's surprising is that Ruben Diaz, who generally likes the astronomical pollution, congestion, and asthma levels of his district- he vehemently opposed congestion pricing- all of the sudden sides with the residents. Did some real estate developer pay him off as soon as the city rezoned the land for development?

Read more:

In this instance as with others, such was within Washington, D.C., there is some key property with an interest by some politically powerful entity, here with the new developement, perhaps the area around the ramps in question, as opposing ramps is a more extreme position then opposing adding continious freeway capacity.

The area in question has undoubtedly attracted higher up attention recently, as evidiced by this design competition.

Winners of design competition (specific link)
with hand pointing to the I-87/138th Street interchange

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Contrived Sustainability
Wendell Cox 11/19/2009

The draft reauthorization of the federal surface transportation (highway and transit) in the House of Representatives is filled with initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, often by seeking to encourage compact development (smart growth) policies. Dr. Ronald D. Utt of the Heritage Foundation discovered an interesting definition in the draft: “sustainable modes of transportation” means public transit, walking, and bicycling” (Section 333(P)7, page 219, accessed November 18, 2009).

This definition would mean that a Toyota Prius that emits one-half as many grams of greenhouse gases per passenger mile as a transit system (not an unusual occurrence) is not sustainable transportation, while the transit system is. There will be more cases like this as time goes on, as vehicle fuel economy improves and the impact of alternative fuel technology is expanded. This is irrational and the worst kind of ideology.

It is possible, of course, that this is simply sloppy legislative drafting. But given the persistence of the compact development lobby and its contribution to pending legislation in Washington in the face of respected research demonstrating its scant potential, something else may be operating. The wording may betray an agenda more concerned with forcing people to accept the favored (and anti-suburban) lifestyles that an urban elite has long sought to impose on others than it is to reduce greenhouse gases. Sustainability in greenhouse gas emissions is not about the hobby horses of one group of advocates or another, it is rather about reducing greenhouse gas emissions as efficiently as possible. The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the rest of Washington needs to focus on ends, not means.

Provisions that pick particular strategies, without regard to their effectiveness, have no place in a crusade so much of the scientific community has characterized in apocalyptic terms. Moreover, such disingenuousness, in the longer run, could whittle away the already apparently declining precarious for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.