Mobilizing the Region

Issue 211 March 12, 1999

Bronx Study Shows Promise, But Falls Short

This week the NY State Department of Transportation released its "Existing Conditions and Problem Identification Report" on the Bronx Arterial Needs Major Investment Study. The report thoughtfully analyzes existing Bronx transit needs and transportation infrastructure, but falls short by failing to adequately integrate transit and freight into its goals.

The report accurately identifies transportation issues along the Major Deegan and Cross Bronx Expressways, and points out that most Bronx residents commute to work by transit while most commuters coming into the borough do so by car. It notes that pitifully little freight comes to the Bronx by rail, but that the potential for freight in the borough is great.

However, DOT's report lacks the neighborhood-by-neighborhood analysis necessary to effectively solve the transportation and pollution problems in the borough. For instance, the report states that the Bronx as a whole has fewer auto pollutants than does Brooklyn, Queens or Manhattan. But it neglects to recognize that there are a number of neighborhoods in the South Bronx that have been identified as pollution "hotspots," where asthma rates are astronomical. Differing mobility patterns in different neighborhoods are also ignored. In Hunts Point, 82% of all households do not have access to a car, but in Throgs Neck, only 36% of households are without auto access.

The report outlines goals for the borough's transportation system, including increases in public transportation, decreases in air and noise pollution, and increases in safety. But the report fails to acknowledge all of the transportation alternatives that could help bring those goals to life. For example, in order to relieve "major congestion" on Bronx highways, the NYS DOT wants to "correct traffic operational deficiencies." The report ignores obvious transit and freight improvements that could also drastically decrease congestion.

Finally, it was disappointing that the report neglected to include pricing in the issues and goals section. Tolling, particularly of trucks, is an effective way to manage congestion and road use.

Comments on the report are being solicited and meetings on the findings will be held. For more information, call Nayan Basu at NYS DOT, 718-482-4549.

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