Friday, November 13, 2009

The Sheridan Expressway: Cars & Buses or Homes & Open Space?

We've gotta admit - we don't live near the Sheridan and seldom find ourselves driving on it, so we don't know where we lie on this issue just yet. Our post on Tuesday announcing a Southern Bronx River Watershed Alliance town hall meeting discussing the possibility of converting the Sheridan to affordable housing, new businesses, and open space this Tuesday caused quite an interesting debate between two of our most outspoken and well-reasoned commenters (coincidentally both named Jay).

Click here and scroll down to read each of their persuasive arguments in their entirety, or you can read below for a few snippets.

Jay Shuffield says (in part):
Removing the Sheridan has a lot of feel-good qualities to it, but it has never been a coherent plan. Proponents argue the Sheridan isn't needed because there's not enough traffic, and then they say all that traffic creates too much air pollution. They talk about the importance of transit, but then ignore the possibilities of using the Sheridan for more transit purposes.
It sounds good on the surface, but it hasn't been thought through very well. We should be focusing instead on how to enhance the Sheridan as a priority transit right-of-way for express buses that could benefit people throughout much of the Bronx, especially in those areas that are now so poorly served by transit. Moreover, these benefits could be achieved without disrupting working class jobs and dumping unnecessary traffic congestion onto local neighborhood streets!
While our other Jay argues (in part):
Jay I could not disagree with you more. As a longtime resident of the Bronx AND the surrounding community that the Sheridan plows through, I can say wholeheartedly that the removal of the Sheridan would make the entire Bronx, and this particular area MUCH better, not worse.
The area is already being repositioned as a residential use, with housing, parks and greenways ALREADY THERE and growing. The final piece of the puzzle, however, is the Sheridan. Making it a greenway, with housing and retail creates jobs, a local economy, decreases traffic/pollution (you heard about astham in the area right?), reinforces a healthy lifestyle, and provides a significant source of GOOD housing for the working and middle class in an area that needs more of them. How do I know this? I live you?
Attempting to instill fear and spread ignorance by saying "it's too expensive", "the area is probably contaminated", "it's not a good place for housing" is offensive and disgusting. The reality is it is one of the FEW places where we can have significant affordable housing for the working/middle class with the public transportation to move them cheaply and quickly.
But hey, I suspect it would make your life easier as a resident outside of the community to say "Screw them, we should use it for us and get our express buses through there to make MY commute shorter." If you want to address the lack of transit for those who CHOOSE to live in areas with little to no transportation, you should do so and work towards getting PUBLIC TRANSIT to your area. The Sheridan is NOT needed, never has been, and the better use is to redevelop the entire area for a green, middle class future.

Each Jay has very clearly thought out arguments on the issue, and the above quotes only reflect some of what each has to say.

So how do other Bronxites feel about this issue? Should the Sheridan remain the way it is, or become revamped as a place for affordable housing, businesses, and open space?



Jay Shuffield said...

While there may be passionate disagreement about alternatives for the Sheridan, I do not think anybody wants "the Sheridan [to] remain the way it is."

There is clearly potential there for improvements that could benefit surrounding neighborhoods and the whole of The Bronx.

The real questions in my mind are:

What are the secondary effects elsewhere from changes here?

How do the changes work together as a whole to make improvements for everyone?

Lennin Reyes said...

To answer your first question Jay, while the Sheridan's absence would create parks for Crotona Park East/Hunts Point residents, it would come at the expense of Soundview, Morris Park, and West Farms residents. If the Sheridan is gone, all of its traffic would shift to the Bronx River Parkway, which travels through more residential areas than the Sheridan does. As for Morris Park and West Farms, they would have to either use the Parkway or use local streets which are currently congested to begin with. I'm afraid that the Bronx River and Bruckner would be even more packed if the Sheridan is gone.

Jay said...

Lennin the problem with that assertion is that NOBODY uses the Sheridan. So removal of the Sheridan will have a negligible effect on traffic in the other communities. We already know the Sheridan is an unfinished highway that has become nothing more than a very low traffic, long exit/entry ramp...completely pointless.

As for Jay, just as I could care less about what the effects may or may not be for the community surrounding the Sheridan. Your questions clearly state this, as you ONLY asked about "the secondary effects elsewhere" and "make improvements for EVERYONE." Why did you not also weigh or inquire about the benefits of the community that the Sheridan plows through? Not even a question or wonder why they want it removed in the first place, or what value it would have for them huh?

As I stated before, if you have problems with PUBLIC transporation in YOUR community, you should work towards bringing those improvements to your area instead of wasting time trying to convince people you genuinely care about "everyone." Adding MORE traffic to the Sheridan only ensures MORE POLLUTION AND TRAFFIC, not less. How does a "transportation expert" not understand that? You should be de-emphasizing highways like the Sheridan, and emphasizing train/rail systems and greenways to get cars/truck off the road and decreases congestion and pollution.

Jay Shuffield said...

"There is clearly potential there for improvements that could benefit surrounding neighborhoods and the whole of The Bronx."

"work together as a whole to make improvements for everyone."

Jay - If you choose to somehow interpret these statements to mean I "could care less about what the effects may or may not be for the community surrounding the Sheridan" then continuing any discussion with you will not lead to a productive, civil discussion.

This is not a zero-sum game. It is not necessary to tear down other communities to build up your own. It is better to work together instead of attacking one another. And we need to have critical discussions about creative ideas, because sometimes they lead to negative, unintended consequences (as this scheme would) despite the best of intentions.

It is unfortunate you only want to fight, instead of working toward positive solutions.

Jay said...

How exactly am I tearing down another community? Because I recommend tearing down an unused highway and replacing it with high density affordable housing for all working/middle class NY residents, add mass transit lines so that all NY residents can benefit, and add parks/greenways so that all NY residents can benefit?

While you are a proponent for more development FARTHER from the city, in areas with limited rail lines, which ultimately necessitates more cars and buses on the road (go to Co-op city and see the results for yourself). And if that's not enough, you want to then put these buses (and yes many of those cars will be coming too) all over the the Cross Bronx, Deegan, Bruckner AND Sheridan as part of your master plan to decrease congestion? Really?

By the way, I don't take any of this to heart but I am personally vested in all of these iisues. I would be happy to discuss with you wherever/whenever you like. Maybe Boogiedowner can host the first "Bronx Forum" where we can get people together to discuss changes/ideas in our borough. I think it's a cool idea. Bronx Brewery anybody???

Jay Shuffield said...

Just to clarify matters for anyone who wants to consider things with an open mind:

BRT is actually possible, can transform The Bronx and reduce congestion. Otherwise, we can continue to fight about a poorly created plan that offers no transit benefits or alternatives, would make the commute worse for transit passengers and drivers alike, and would actually increase congestion on our streets.

Jay said...

I don't doubt BRT is possible, and it should be explored. However the BETTER plan is to remove this unused highway, and promote higher density, middle class housing close to the city core with greenways, parks, new/improved train service, with amenities to support the growing population.

Why are you purposelly misinforming the public by stating their is no transit benefits or alternatives and it would make the commute worse for train passengers amd drivers alike? The FACT remains that this plan is not poorly crafted but tailored to promote mass transit, higher density housing close to the city core, and increase green space.

-The plan calls for a NEW MetroNorth Stop in Hunts Point, new ferry service in Hunts Point, as well as expanded train and bus service to accomodate the new population. This improves train service and commutes for everyone in the city.

-The plan calls for denser housing along the train routes closer to the city core. This serves to grow the population close to the working core of Manhattan, instead of developing far from the city and flooding highways with buses and cars. (see the traffic and horrible commutes in co-op city for those results)

-The plan calls for adding parks to an underserved community, trees, and greenways to clean the air, and connect Manhattan's greenway (which is one of the great things about Manhattan) with the North Bronx's, so as to make it one long greenway for the entire city. How does your plan create parks? greenways? Connect the city? It does not.

I am happy to entertain alternatives to the removal of the Sheridan, but to keep the Sheridan and hold the community hostage/undeveloped in order to create housing in far flung parts of the borough with limited/no rail service and promoting buses to flood the highways is not a reasonable alternative.

If the community surrounding the Sheridan were already developed, then your plan would have more merit. However, we have substantial affordable space close to the city core, along established transit routes, with the ability to create substantial parks and train service, and greatly improve the community. This would have a far greater impact on the city as a whole than simply leaving the community as-is and building further out and adding buses to shuttle people on roads/highways.

Jay Shuffield said...

Just to set the record straight:

Jay Shuffield said...

Let me try that again:

Guywithacause said...

Thanks for the links. But at the end of the day it is clear you just want to make YOUR commute more palatable, at the expense of smart, green growth.

Jay Shuffield said...

Dear Guywithacause,

The facts speak for themselves.

But let's indulge these malicious fabrications for just a moment. If the Sheridan did affect my commute, how would that change the effects of removing the highway?

The personal impact to me clearly wouldn't somehow mitigate the potential traffic problems in the surrounding neighborhoods, would it? There wouldn't be some type of difference in air quality if it were my car, instead of somebody else's, idling in a neighborhood intersection, would there?

But just to set the record straight on this point (yet again), the Sheridan does not affect my commute; I take the D train to work.

I guess this is just one more example of people who are more interested in fighting and tearing others down, rather than working to improve The Bronx. To have "smart growth" we need to have productive, honest discussions that allow us to make smart decisions.