Transforming a roadway, connecting a community

Changing a road from an expressway to a boulevard improves a Bronx neighborhood’s quality of life

For those outside the Crotona section of the Bronx, removing the Sheridan Expressway from the national highway system may have seemed like cause for alarm. But for neighborhood residents, it was a reason to celebrate. Converting the 1.3 mile-Sheridan from an expressway into a boulevard reconnected the Bronx community to the waterfront and greenspaces that had been greatly restricted since the roadway’s completion in 1961.

Accomplishing this feat was a first for the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and a complex process that our joint venture team helped advance after years of discussion.

New links to improved parklands

Our team listened to the community’s request for enhanced pedestrian safety and improved access to the waterfront and greenspace to the boulevard’s west. We enhanced safety by installing high visibility pavement markings, creating16-foot-wide refuge islands with bollards and adding three signalized intersections across the mainline Sheridan Boulevard. The protected signal phase enables pedestrians — including students from neighboring schools — to safely cross the roadway to reach neighborhood parks without facing conflicting vehicular traffic. These new street signalized crossings replace circuitous, confusing pedestrian routes to the parks that were only available at Westchester Avenue and at 174th Street.

Coordinating across agencies

To achieve this complex project in a dense urban environment, we coordinated with numerous city, state and federal agencies, including the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, the New York City Department of Transportation, the New York State Department of Environmental Protection and the Federal Highway Administration. We also helped coordinate public information and community board meetings.

A neighborhood reconnected

When this $85 million Sheridan de-designation project was completed in 2017, the Crotona neighborhood enjoyed renewed access to the greenspace and Bronx waterfront to the west of the Sheridan Boulevard. By listening to the community, designing for safety and coordinating with multiple agencies, we successfully reconnected links that were severed when the highway was built across the neighborhood in 1963. This project — which greatly improved the quality of life in this long-overlooked neighborhood in the Bronx — provides a blueprint for similar projects across New York City.