Saturday, June 30, 2012

Sanity Prevails - Sheridan to be Saved

Some 40 misguided protesters overruled by the 100s of truckers who deliver food for people

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Sheridan removal would transfer truck route to crowded local streets, increase truck - pedestrian conflict
Correction about the Sheridan
Submitted by urbanresidue on Sat, 06/23/2012 - 13:27.

The City did not "recently reverse[] the decision to demolish the road".

There was never any decision to remove the Sheridan. The City undertook a study for improvements of the area, which included review of the concept to remove the Sheridan. That concept was eliminated from further consideration after fatal flaws were identified due to the negative impacts it would impose on surrounding residential neighborhoods by rerouting truck traffic onto local streets.

New York's Decision About the Sheridan
Submitted by Charles Siegel on Sat, 06/23/2012 - 21:51.

It is correct that "The City did not 'recently reverse[] the decision to demolish the road." because it had never made the decision to demolish the road.

The city decided not to do a comprehensive study of the costs and benefits of removing the Sheridan, including the benefits of providing more parks, development and jobs.

Instead, it rejected the removal purely on the basis of a traffic study, without looking at the economic and environmental benefits of the removal. The city claimed that increased truck traffic on residential streets was a “fatal flaw” in the removal plan, without considering at all whether the removal might have benefits that outweigh this cost.

Jose Serrano, the US Representative of the district where the Sheridan is located, commented:

“I stand with the community in saying that taking any option off the table at this time is premature When we helped secure the grant for this study, we envisioned a full study of all the options, not one where a challenging option like the removal is quickly discounted. We know that there are difficulties with removing the Sheridan, but we are interested in knowing how that could be accomplished, not hearing that it is too difficult to even continue studying. I urge the city to reconsider and resume studying all options for the Sheridan Expressway.”

Charles Siegel

Residential neighborhoods should not be truck routes
Submitted by urbanresidue on Sun, 06/24/2012 - 08:39.

Any normal planning approach will screen out schemes when untenable defects have been identified in order to focus resources on the remaining alternatives that can actually provide benefits.

Continuing to study something after it becomes clear that it is not a viable solution would be a waste of limited public funds, and would only create more delays before real improvements can be implemented.

It should seem clear to anybody that it would be unacceptable to divert a lot of large trucks onto residential streets on a daily basis, through a community that already has more than its share of environmental burdens. By taking away the Sheridan as an alternate route, the entire residential community in Hunts Point would also be turned into an idling truck parking lot whenever there is the slightest hiccup on the Bruckner (which is not exactly the most reliable, with its extreme congestion and lack of shoulders).

Without any additional study, it should already be clear that even the best-case claims about potential benefits from modest increases in parkland, affordable housing, and supposedly job creation would not balance out the impact to safety, health, and quality of life. (Note that the financial viability of the housing has never been sketched out, let alone demonstrated. The claim about "jobs" is even more dubious, since the plans invariably include removing all the existing M-zone businesses adjacent to the Sheridan that are already employing workers...). Moreover, whatever benefits might theoretically be possible (if the fatal flaw could be ignored) would be located far to the north of the residents in Hunts Point who would feel the impacts.

Unless there is some valid argument against the traffic findings (which has not yet been made by any of the opponents), the City is doing the right thing by looking at the other options to improve this area, non-specific statements by an elected official notwithstanding.

Highway removal can be an amazing tool for planners to improve communities. But like every tool, it is not suitable for every job. Unlike other urban highways with a lot of personal vehicle trips that can shift to transit or redistribute among many other routes, this is a truck route for big rigs that would otherwise be forced onto neighborhood streets.

Sheridan Removal Without Trucks On Neighborhood Streets
Submitted by Charles Siegel on Fri, 06/29/2012 - 09:29.

The South Bronx River Watershed Alliance has found flaws in the city's perfunctory traffic analysis, and it has suggested two possible ways to tear down the Sheridan and still give trucks a convenient way to get to Hunts Point market without using neighborhood streets:

-- Allow trucks to use the lower level of the George Washington Bridge, so they could easily take the Major Deegan and Bruckner to the market.

-- Add a ramp from the Cross-Bronx to West Farms Road, a truck route that runs parallel to the Sheridan.

For more details, see

These flaws in the city's traffic study underline the need for the thorough study of the Sheridan tear-down that the city is refusing to do.

Charles Siegel

You're putting trucks on local streets
Submitted by urbanresidue on Fri, 06/29/2012 - 12:43.


Could you please visit the area and familiarize yourself with its layout and issues... or at the very least look at a map before posting this stuff?

Adding a ramp connecting the Cross-Bronx to West Farms Road would be putting trucks on local streets. West Farms Road is a local street.

Putting trucks on West Farms Road has obvious defects, and that suggestion in no way serves any interests of the local community.

Please check the map now and try to follow along:

Diverting trucks from the Sheridan onto Westchester Avenue would make children cross that traffic between the school on one side and the playground on the other. (And, unlike Starlight Park, there would be no safe, grade separated access.)

Late at night, trucks would be driving below the windows of residents on Boone Avenue, who currently have some distance and grade separation to filter some of the noise.

You would put all the trucks in conflict with local traffic, cyclists, pedestrians, etc. when it all crossed another local street at Westchester Avenue. (We should be improving conditions by redesigning the existing ramps to become a safer and more attractive pedestrian environment, not dumping more trucks into the intersection!)

Your suggestion would put the truck traffic onto a street that subway passengers from the 6 subway station have to cross if they are going west (most of them do).

As for diversion to the Bruckner - you still haven't answered the two very basic, and absolutely necessary question about what happens when there's an incident on the Bruckner.

1) How can you propose to increase the travel distance and decreasing travel speeds for trucks if you care about air quality?

2) Are you really ok trapping all the trucks to idle in Hunts Point whenever there is an incident on the Bruckner, because you've removed the alternate route?

Please, can you try to engage in a meaningful discussion that actually addresses how this scheme could address the fatal flaw with air quality and lack of alternate routes? I suppose not, since you consistently choose not to address this real world roadblock to your poorly planned scheme.

When you advance yet another argument that has absolutely no regard for the actual living conditions of the people in the neighborhood, you demonstrate that your only true interest is an abstract idea of "highway removal."

Moreover, your attempts to discredit the work of professional planners will need to find arguments that rely on less obvious defects.

Where Should Questions About Sheridan Be Resolved
Submitted by Charles Siegel on Fri, 06/29/2012 - 14:50.

I think these questions should be resolved by a thorough study of all alternatives done by professional planners, allowing input from all concerned parties.

You seem to be suggesting that these questions should be resolved by a discussion between two people in the comments section of planetizen.

Charles Siegel

Questions Were Already Resolved - Time for a Real Plan!
Submitted by urbanresidue on Fri, 06/29/2012 - 16:33.

The question has ALREADY been resolved through a planning study, Charles. The professional planners clearly identified the fatal flaws.

For some reason, you refuse to accept the study's findings. Yet you are unable to provide any meaningful argument to discredit the study. The transparent attempt to cast doubt was easily dismissed with a few, really basic facts.

This is now the second study to reach the same conclusion.

What do you want, a study to study the study?

When something doesn't work, at some point you move on and use your resources to craft a plan that provides real benefits.

Study the Alternatives
Submitted by Charles Siegel on Fri, 06/29/2012 - 16:53.

I want a full study of the Sheridan removal, including a study of the two alternatives proposed by the public that I mentioned above.

Those two alternatives were never studied.

Those alternatives have been proposed by local people who have a stake in the outcome, who have followed the planning process closely, and who very familiar with local conditions, and who are very familiar with the traffic issues involved.

I don't think those proposals should be dismissed on the say-so of one anonymous internet commenter who is obviously biased.

If we have a full study of Sheridan removal, you will be able to state your objections to those proposals, local people who support removal will be able to answer your objections, and professional planners will be able to make a decision after having heard all the information.

For example: You claim there would be an unsafe school crossing. Is there any way to mitigate that problem? We won't know unless there is a planning process where you can make that objection, and the supporters of Sheridan removal can respond to it.

Charles Siegel

Could be worth the formality so we can move on
Submitted by urbanresidue on Fri, 06/29/2012 - 19:18.

To be honest, though, to cut through the obstructionism, I wouldn't object to a study of the West Farms "alternative."

The fatal flaws can be thoroughly documented quite quickly by the planners working on this project. If providing the documentation to demonstrate how catastrophically bad it would can save time so we can move on toward implementing some improvements, I'm all for it!

Decisions Based on Facts, Not Make-Believe
Submitted by urbanresidue on Fri, 06/29/2012 - 19:12.

Until you can produce ANY fact or remotely reasonable argument to challenge the findings of either study, you are baselessly disparaging the hard work of the professional planners who have invested their time and effort to improving this community.

The issues has been carefully studied not once, but twice.

Your scheme has clear fatal flaws.

And nobody has been able to provide ANY meaningful objection to those findings.

As clearly stated before, more study on a scheme that has proven itself unfeasible is only a waste of money and time. Once you are willing to suspend reality, potential benefits become infinite, so further study of the impossible is meaningless. It only delays a REAL plan for improvements that will provide REAL benefits.

These two "new alternatives" are a fiction. But even if they weren't, no planning process can ever be successful if it always admits new, poorly defined "alternatives" instead of proceeding.

There is nothing new about the Bruckner routing, nor is it an "alternative." Relying on the Bruckner without the Sheridan has a clear fatal flaw due to the lack of alternate routing in the event of incidents. That remains true, Charles, no matter how many times you choose to ignore that basic fact.

The other "alternative" of West Farms Road as a truck route is disingenuous at best! A few years ago, Columbia planning studio put together a thoughtful proposal for a boulevard to replace the Sheridan (what would be a "Modified" scenario), which might actually be workable. These same activists rejected that option because they had decided to accept nothing short of a full removal of the Sheridan.

The full removal, no-compromise, don't confuse me with the facts campaign is precisely the problem.

It has substituted the means for the end.

In their campaign to "remove the Sheridan," certain activists have lost sight of the real goals of improving the community. As this last "alternative" shows, some of them are now willing to sacrifice the needs of the community to achieve the highway removal. Seriously - why are we even having a discussion about forcing everybody who gets off the subway cross a truck route?!

To be clear: a West Farm Road-only option for a truck route was never identified earlier through ANY of the community-based planning that continued of the course of many years. That's because it's a bad idea that wouldn't work. It was ONLY thrown out now in a desperate effort to try discrediting the planning work, by suggesting they were less than comprehensive by leaving something, anything, out. This is transparent and dishonest obstructionism, and should be recognized for what it is.

I am not asking anybody to make any decisions based on my comments here. I am merely providing some clarity on this issue in hopes that other outsiders, who may not be sufficiently familiarity with the area and the issues, will not continue interjecting themselves into the process. It is harmful to real planning and community building when outsiders put their campaigns for generic ideas ahead of real improvements that address the actual conditions in our locale.

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