Monday, April 19, 2010

NY TIMES on the X-Bronx
“On the Cross Bronx, Torture, On the Stoop, Entertainment”

Describes the intersection of the Cross Bronx Expressway and the Bronx River Parkway s “the single worst bottleneck in the country.”

They are talking about the intersection that I wrote up here this January; they fail to mention the deficiency of the ramp used by northbound traffic from the short Sheridan Expressway to get to the northbound Bronx River Parkway.

In this article they fail to mention:

The difficulty of widening the X Bronx, particularly its western portion
Its heavy use by truck and automobile traffic - as a relatively scarce east-west highway

Of course they reflect the standardized conception.

“Few roads in America have histories as tortured as the Cross Bronx Expressway. The master builder Robert Moses gouged the highway through crowded neighborhoods, displacing tens of thousands and critics say helping set the stage for the arson and crime that ravaged the borough for a generation.”

No mention that neighborhoods near it thrive while those further away floundered.

“Today, the Cross Bronx Expressway is among the busiest roads in New York City, and its problems are legion. Of the four worst bottlenecks in the United States identified by Inrix, a traffic research company, three of them were on this highway.”

“The Cross Bronx carries 184,000 cars a day, according to the State Department of Transportation, and Mrs. Moore’s intersection is congested 94 hours a week, with cars traveling at an average speed of 11.4 miles per hour, according to Inrix.”

“Log portions of the expressway have no shoulder, so even minor accidents can snarl traffic for miles. The lighting is poor and exit and exit ramps are too short. Most of the road sits inside a trench, leaving commuters to stare at concrete walls, longing for the distraction of scenery. After too long the trench can feel like a crowded coffin.”

“But when you live hard by the Cross Bronx, special compromises must be made. On Fteley Avenue, where Mrs. Moore lives, the children on her block know not to play past the stop sign where merging traffic lurks. But unlikely pleasures can also be won”.

The article goes on to consume much of its space, saying precious little about the Cross Bronx Expressway not the larger system that it’s a part of.

“I go as far out of my way as I possibly can not to have to take the Cross Bronx”, he said. “I avoid it at all costs to the point of adding 20 or 30 miles to a trip I’m taking.”

The article helps display the mindset why the highway is so congested, ending with the line:

“She lit a cigarette, leaned back, and settled in to watch the chaos.”

Ah, just sit back and smoke Virginia Dope rather then think about solutions- something which the New York Times and the elites generally have a morbid fear about considering improving the interstate highway network, particularly where most needed.

Hey New York Times, assorted politicians, officials, etc: how about instead an RX:

Logic dictates taking advantage of opportunities to provide extra capacity along the CBE as well as nearby

The CBX itself is difficult. Ultimately it will need major reconstruction. However, the general lack of space will make that more disruptive to maintaining traffic, let alone idea of widening the right of way given the proximity of its retaining walls, and overpasses/tunnels and apartment buildings. Sure it can gain capacity with a series of smaller projects, reconstructing these walls and eventually its overpasses/tunnels with some extra width, prioritizing full shoulders, extra collector-distributor lanes and ultimately a 4th continuous lane in each direction with the spot removal and replacement of some buildings.

However, apart from these physical feasibility of widening, the corridor can only take so much traffic given the infeasibility of widening the main river crossing it feeds, the 14 lane George Washington Bridge, fed not only by the 6 lane CBE, but also 4 lanes to and from the Harlem River Drive, and 2 apiece from the Deegan and the Henry Hudson Parkway. At best, adding capacity to the Cross Bronx Expressway would best serve local traffic and indirectly longer distance traffic by providing the extra space for the local traffic to stay more out of the way of the latter. So beyond the extra capacity on this road itself, extra ‘capacity’ will be needed elsewhere for diverting away some of this traffic. So beyond identifying the varying feasibilities of improving various segments of the CBE, including the idea of continuous service roads, and improved ramp designs providing improved pedestrian safety, NYSDOT needs to identify such regarding diverting some of the traffic from the CBE, onto alternative routes that are less congested and/or are physically more feasible to add capacity.


Study the network, to see the varying feasibilities of traffic re-routing.

Remember that the Cross Bronx Expressway was designed to work as part of a network with at least 2 other parallel routes: the Mid Town Manhattan Expressway and the Lower Manhattan Expressway, respectively connecting to the Long Island Expressway and the Bushwick Expressway- the latter not built.

Of these, the MidTown Manhattan was the most environmentally feasible, possessing an under street right of way for a set of cross island tunnels.

The other plans, including the earlier version of the Midtown Manhattan would have had high real estate costs, and even the latter versions of the Lower Manhattan Expressway, though designated as tunnel, would have nonetheless required clearing a swath of buildings from historic SoHo.

The un-built Cross Brooklyn Expressway had its existing right of way of the LIRR Bay Ridge line, with the latter plans having it encased in cut and cover tunnel with new development – a linear city – atop. However, it merely ended at the already over capacity Gowanus Expressway to either the Verrazano Narrows Bridge or towards Manhattan via the Battery Tunnels or the Brooklyn Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges- all three leading merely to surface streets. Of these the Battery Tunnel has the best right of way, though would lead to the overcapacity antiquated Holland Tunnel.

Of all of these options the easiest’ (relative term) would be the Cross Brooklyn Expressway linear city tunnel together with a Cross Harbor tunnel to New Jersey with both rail and highway, and most worthy of pursuit, among other reasons as an evacuation route from Long Island., followed by the Mid Town Manhattan Expressway Tunnels, which already has its connecting express highway in New Jersey and Queens. However either would be further off in the future simply for their costs and complexities, physical and political. Of these two, the Cross Harbor-Cross Brooklyn Railway-Highway Tunnel should be the next major project pursued within New York City, in conjunction with that to reconstruct the Gowanus and Brooklyn Queens Expressways.

Map- showing Cross Harbor Cross Brooklyn Tunnel, Cross Sound Tunnel and Tappan Zee Bridge Replacement

Within the broader regional area, this project should happen with the next two major projects within New York State: of constructing the Cross Sound Tunnel to Long Island connecting I-287 in Westchester to Route 135 in Long Island; and of constructing the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement.

Like the Cross Harbor Tunnel, both of these should be multi-model, including highway and rail (or at least the capacity to add a rail line).

Like the Cross Harbor, the Cross Sound would be a valuable evacuation route from Long Island- something that should matter to our government which has instead shown its interest in warrant less domestic surveillance.

Both could ultimately be connected as the south-eastern part of the greater metropolitan New York City area I-287 Beltway, via a new Route 27 Sunrise Highway corridor express highway, perhaps via drilled tunnel, connecting to an upgraded Belt Parkway-Conduit Avenue corridor, providing another set of express routes to JFK international airport.

Amongst the existing highways, extra capacity would be physically easiest along the Cross Westchester I-287 corridor, particularly as its Tappan Zee Bridge has undergoing planning for its replacement.

Because completing gaps in this I-287 metropolitan beltway will attract greater amounts of traffic, the Cross Harbor and especially the Cross Sound Tunnels will require upgrading the existing approach corridors, particularly the I-287 Cross Westchester Expressway and its overlap with I-87 that includes the Tappan Zee Bridge.

As the 1st main parallel route to the I-95 Cross Bronx Expressway, the I-287 Cross Westchester Expressway provides a far more feasible source of new capacity for diverting some of the traffic from the former, particularly with its Tappan Zee Bridge’s replacement not yet fixed, making additional capacity there even more feasible. With the difficulties of establishing a new east west route to the south –the best would be via a set of land tunnels connecting each end of the Cross County Parkway respectively to I-95 and a new bridge from Yonkers to Alpine New Jersey – providing extra capacity along the I-287 Cross Westchester/I-87 Tappan Zee corridor would provide the best bang per buck for providing extra capacity in the area.

To accommodate both the new Cross Sound Tunnel and to divert some of the traffic from the Cross Bronx Expressway, the Connecticut I-95/Cross Westchester I-287 corridor should be expanded, across a new wider Tappan Zee Bridge. In Connecticut, I-95 from New Haven to the I-287 connection just inside of New York, should have at least one additional through lane in each direction – widening it from 6 to 8 lanes -- which the existing right of way could accommodate, whether as a single project or over a series of projects, such as those for replacing the existing overpasses. So should the Cross Westchester Expressway, which since the 1990s, primarily in White Plains and further west has been reconstructed with extra capacity or at least the space for such, as should be done with its entire length. Fortunately, an upcoming project in the White Plains area near Westchester Avenues and Route 22 will add a short collector-distributor roadway at least for the eastbound side. Ideally this should be extended, with a segment to the west beneath a new freeway lid/cap, for some mitigation of the wider more heavily traveled highway, and an all new interchange with I-87 appears to provide the space for one additional lane in each direction.

Because the I-95/I-287 interchanges is so close to the Long Island Sound, the Cross Sound Tunnel’s connections to I-287 must extend further west, and due to the issue of maintaining I-287 traffic as the tunnel is constructed, its approaches will almost certainly flank the existing I-287, emerging in the area between Route 1 and Westchester Avenue displacing some dwellings built after the freeway’s initial construction, and eventually merging with I-287. Because of the relatively short distance between this area and the ramps leading to the interchange with the Hutchinson River Parkway and subsequently I-684, it’s highly plausible these outboard lanes will extend at least this far, with improved ramp connections to I-684 for encouraging traffic to divert (given that I-684 is even easier to widen then I-287, and should be widened with an additional lane in each direction incrementally via projects replacing its various overpasses as they come due for replacement).

Because of its multiplicity of uses, the entire I-287 Cross Westchester Expressway corridor should have a minimum of 4 lanes per direction, plus generous collector distributor lanes, particularly between I-95 and I-684 for the proposed I-287 to Long Island Route 135 Cross Sound Tunnel, as well as the I-87/I-287 overlap, not only for diverting traffic from the north away from the I-95 Cross Bronx Expressway, but for that from the south away from that road and instead straight up the relatively under-utilized I-87 corridor. The new Tappan Zee Bridge[s] should have at least 6 vehicular lanes in each direction (rather than the current 7 total), and include the proposed heavy rail from Suffern, though extended at least to White Plains with the corridor’s design allowing extending the rail to the New Haven line and ultimately through the future Cross Sound Tunnel. To mitigate the widened highway approaches, construct new urban decks atop segments in Tarrytown and Nyack, plus at least one segment in White Plains. This set of movements along I-287 will provide an alternative for traffic from Connecticut I-95 to avoid New York I-95, and with the Cross Sound Tunnel, improved I-287, an alternative from the I-495 Long Island Expressway, and the Throgs Neck , Whitestone Triborough [RFK] and George Washington Bridges. The new wider Tappan Zee Bridge will be undeniably crucial in providing as an enhanced alternative to the far more difficult to widen George Washington Bridge. Obviously it is way more practical to begin to improve our outer metropolitan area bypass than the Cross Bronx-Trans Manhattan-George Washington Bridge corridor, and it is safer for everyone when truck drivers have adequate areas established for rest. Nonetheless, the current plan for the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement fails to go beyond adding a single lane plus a rail line extending to Suffern but failing to extend to White Plain- ignoring the future potential of the I-287 Cross Westchester office park corridor, and truck stops are rare, despite the need for expanding such facilities on I-87 in Yonkers, and I-684 to the north of Mount Kisco. It is apparent, from such things as this latest New York Times article, that highway planning is one of those things very far away from the thinking of our inner city elites.

In a nutshell, the most feasible needs as alternatives to the cross Bronx Expressway

NYC to the south:

- Cross Harbor-Cross Brooklyn Tunnel with railway and highway
- Mid Town Manhattan Tunnels connecting New Jersey 495 with Queens-Long Island I-495, with design accommodating two pairs of cross-town tunnels with 3rd Midtown Tube and 4th Lincoln Tunnel tube

NYC to the north:

- Continue the 4th northbound lane of I-95 past its current end at the Pelham Bay Parkway to past its 1st crossing of the Hutchinson River Parkway to Co-Op City, and add the room for added capacity to I-95 through NY incrementally as bridges etc are replaced over time, allowing at least 4 lanes per direction.

NYC to the East:

- Construct an additional lane along the Clearview Expressway-Grand Central Parkway interchange to and through the latter’s interchange with the southbound Cross Island Parkway, which should be incrementally widened to the south, furthering the utility of this route as an alternative way to JFK international airport.

NYC Greater Metro Area to the North:

- Connecticut I-95, Westchester I-287 additional capacity with at least one additional lane in each direction, plus spot improvements via collector-distributor roadways.

- Cross Sound Tunnel, with improved I-287 connections to Hutchinson River Parkway and I-684, with the latter incrementally widened with an additional lane in each direction.

- Tappan Zee Bridge replacement with at least 6 lanes in each direction up from the current 7 total, possibly with separate local and express lanes. It’s the only vehicular crossing between the George Washington Bridge and the Bear Mountain and I-84 Bridges, so it definitely makes sense to give it more capacity, including the addition of the new railway.

- Further north, construct a new expressway continuing from I-87/ I-287 through Elmsford’s industrial flats and then via an improved Route 100/9A corridor to the existing expressway along the Hudson River north of Ossining.

- And even further north, preserve the New Haven Connecticut Route 34 Freeway corridor, with air rights development atop an extended below ground freeway, incrementally first to surface upon the existing frontage roads, with $1 paid apiece for the irresponsibly placed buildings, and ultimately via bridge or tunnel beneath the WW1 memorial to an extension ultimately to NY Route 17/I-86

- NYC Locally:

- Deegan Project- to improve with additional capacity and a radical redesign particularly at its southernmost areas for improved pedestrian accessibility to the waterfront. Traffic from the George Washington Bridge would have an improved connection to the Hunts Point industrial area and the Triborough, while northbound traffic from such places would have the I-87/I-287 Tappan Zee combo as an increasingly viable alternative.

Where To Start: The upcoming project for reconstructing the High Bridge I-95/I-87 interchange.

Expand it to include:

- Re-opening the 178th and 179th Street Tunnels alongside the I-95 Trans Manhattan Expressway for non-George Washington Bridge bound traffic.

- Widening the northbound I-87/Highbridge interchange merge to facilitate transferring some of the potential I-95 CBE bound traffic to the northbound I-87 Deegan cantilevering the existing service road overhead, and ultimately adding capacity to Westchester via a new southbound roadway to the west, and the two existing carriageways used for northbound traffic, re-striped with the righthand most lane as a merge rather then strictly continuous lane.

- Widening the Deegan southward from the High Bridge interchange to 4+ lanes per direction with generous ramp lineage, with Fort Washington Way scale project for depressing and ultimately covering along the Cromwell Avenue corridor past a new under-crossing past 238th Street, facilitating a more human and holistic approach to this south of Yankee Stadium/Mott Haven area recently rezoned, also covering the depressed segment at Willis Avenue, as well as reconstructing the ramps and service roads with greater use of short tunnel underpasses for providing greater pedestrian safety.

Instead, our political ‘leadership’, while at best proceeding with peace-meal planning, is allowing itself to become beholden to a theology so against any additional highway capacity – even ramps and choke-points – seemingly requiring creating new choke-points as some sort of symbolically distracting ‘moral’ crusade’ against driving.

LINK- Jerry Brown A Beholden Doctrine

The most egregious example is that in New Haven Connecticut with the substitution of Yale University’s skybridges for the underground Route 34 freeway, now blocked by the irresponsible placement of a trio of buildings, with the first constructed being a Pfizer research facility, followed by a new cancer hospital directly butted up to block the right of way.. Unfortunately the lure of this pseudo moral crusade is sufficiently strong to lure even the Regional Plan Association

Short of that, the worst example is allowing the Deegan to be chocked by new real estate development projects…

This has already happened in the north Bronx with the erection of a building substantively closer to the Deegan, within the underused right of way to its immediate west.

The Deegan is often dangerously congested in the area of the interchange with 238th Street.

This segment was built over 60 years ago. It lacks shoulders. The southbound ramp is particularly problematic, largely because much of its traffic is straight through (does not turn onto 238th Street) yet has to stop for the traffic light at the surface intersection with 238th Street. The elevated segment to the north overshadows Cromwell Avenue while that to the south is a solid wall flanked by heavily used service roads to and from the Wills Avenue Bridge[s]. That area deserves something better.

Current Moot Haven Community Board votes to increase pollution risk maintain Deegan in its existing divisive configuration.

NYSDOT take the results of a sole public hearing announced only 3 days previously and the pronouncements of Streetsblog and the Tri State [anti] Transportation Campaign about the unanimity of opinion there expressed by a number of people in attendance not reported. Of course there was no notice to those using the facility- say via NYSDOT being required to purchase the existing billboard space to let motorists know of this one opportunity to express their opinions. NYSDOT presents the sole idea of widening the existing highway configuration – IOW widen its viaduct and add a wider ramp to replace a narrower one for southbound off ramp traffic from I-87 to the 238th Street intersection.

This is a total travesty of the concept of ‘democracy’.

The total lack of reporting other then by a cluster of seemingly centrally directed internet present organizations (notably Streetsblog and TSTC) is highly suspect) with their spin of a decision to place some 10,000 new residences next to what they consider a health hazard, without consideration of the added truck traffic through the antiquated ramps, all as the will of the community. A charade that places the public interest beneath the whims of the political pyramid that appears to be strong enough to have stifled debate.

LINK- Chock the Deegan

LINK- My conversation with a developer shill

1 comment:


The possible solutions mentioned did not include extending a decked or widened Cross County Parway to a Hudson River Bridge and into NJ.

This would go a long way to solving the problems of the Cross Bronx Expressway