State won’t build new ramps on Deegan

Blueprint for Mott Haven’s future will take precedence over traffic plan

Pummeled by public outcry against a plan to extend the off-ramps on the Major Deegan Expressway, the State Department of Transportation has abandoned the project.

Much-needed repairs will be made to the aging roadway over Mott Haven, but the plan to extend the highway’s exit ramps in order to calm the traffic that backs up as cars merge onto Exterior Street is on hold indefinitely, said DOT spokesman Adam Levine.

Hearing

Opponents were particularly incensed that the Deegan plan ignored the city’s desire to transform the Harlem River waterfront with a zoning plan passed last spring designed to attract developers to build high-rise apartments, new commercial buildings and a hotel.

Every speaker at a public hearing at Hostos Community College on Nov. 9 denounced the state proposal. Some speakers also expressed concern that efforts to ease congestion would simply attract more cars, and more pollution. Others criticized plans to use eminent domain to seize existing businesses in order to make room for the new ramps.

“We need more jobs, more affordable housing, more clean air, not more highway,” said Mychal Johnson, a member of Community Board 1 who initiated a petition campaign against the state plan. “The Deegan should be repaired, but not expanded,” he said in an interview.

Caro Samol, who heads the Department of City Planning’s Bronx office, said that the highway project would “cause a domino effect. It would severely hamper, if not outright preclude” healthy growth of the waterfront properties. She insisted that there were other alternatives that could both improve the highway and leave access to the waterfront open.

At the Nov. 9 hearing, Deputy Borough President Aurelia Greene insisted that while the highway needs work, “it cannot be at the expense of the surrounding community.” George Rodriguez, chairman of Community Board 1 and Arline Parks, who chairs the board’s land use committee, echoed the same cry.

The DOT capitulated at a meeting on Nov. 20 requested by the Bronx Borough President’s office, which brought together representatives of the state agency with staff of the city Department of City Planning department, members of Community Board 1 and local elected officials.

“We don’t want to be a bad neighbor in that area,” said Levine, the DOT’s director of public affairs. “What we heard from the community was that the widening would impede” waterfront development.

“They were very clear that at some point they will revisit the issue,” said Sam Goodman, a planner in the Borough President’s office, but not until the rezoning plan has a chance to spur development. Once the area has been built out, the state will consider its options again. In the meantime, said Goodman, other traffic-calming measures will be looked at.

Johnson, a long-time property owner in the neighborhood as well as a community board member, feels that all the work to inform his neighbors about the project and its implications paid off. “They actually listened to the community and public officials,” he said. “I feel wonderful.”

A version of this story appeared in the Winter 2009 edition of the Mott Haven Herald.

24 thoughts on “State won’t build new ramps on Deegan

  1. Wow! Wait unti lthe area is all built up, making the highway rehab more expensive to taxpayers, but oh well, orchastrate and steer a controversy for some powerful entity that wants to build its towers more quickly, bringing in 1,000s of new residences and vehicles, behind a wall of an elevated highway seperating themselves and the waterfront from the inland. Mark Gorton serves his masters at Credit Suise!

    Nice how they have that one meeting that though barely advertised to the public, is filled with opponents and apparantly none of the road’s users.

    And then, you have NYSDOT issueing not a press release, but rather a call to Streetsblog?

  2. Douglass your comment is spoken like the typical DRIVER WHOE DOESN’T LIVE IN THE COMMUNITY. People actually live here, and are forced to deal with the Major Deegan that plows through the community. And you are complaining that the community doesn’t roll over as the development plans to FINALLY open the waterfront, build affordable housing (did you notice we need more of that?), parkland (yeah we don’t have much of that either), decrease car traffic/exhaust (we have a bit of an asthma problem here due to the significant amount of cars/trucks on that Deegan), have just been approved and will be crushed so that YOUR commute from who knows where is slightly better?

    I mean really? Is this your argument? It has ZERO to do with Credit Suisse, and EVERYTHING to do with OUR COMMUNITY. But what do you care…you don’t live here. If you cared enough about the expansion of the Deegan ramps, you should have made it your business to be informed and attend the meeting. Feel free to come to ANY of the Community Board 1 meetings and voice your opinion about the issue. We would be happy to hear how you know whats best for the community and the city of NY.

  3. Dude-

    You can have the developement.

    But why must it infringe on the much needed ramps? Do you think it makes any sense to add 10,000 residents to an already overcapacity interchange without even leaving room to upgrade the ramps?

    And why jam in an elevated highway rather then what Cincinatti did that would really open up the waterfront, rather then create the cul de sac comminty that you shill for?

    http://cos-mobile.blogspot.com/2009/11/i-87-cromwell-avenue-tunnel.html

    Why do you state that you are concerned with asthma when you will create even more of a traffic jam by not doing the Fort Washington Way with cover and filtration. The “Streetsblog” position is all about the public be damned just to make a developement project a bit more sprawling?

    That NYSDOT has a sibngle meeting announced reportedly 3 days beforehand, and makes a decision on that shows that it is simply cherrypicked with paraochialists.

    http://cos-mobile.blogspot.com/2009/11/chock-deegan.html

    Any meeting about the Deegan ought to be better announced, including the people using the highway.

    A decision based on such an obviously cheery picked audience, and one so obviously steered to make this cul de sac developement a bit larger is clearly invalid. So does that fact that the matter is unreported by the major newspapers- to keep the general public uninformed. Its all about hoodwinking the public, which the parochialists are good at.

    But yes, the ruling class tool Mark Groton does his work well, as do the handlers of this “community” based opposition that would have Mott Haven become further walled off from the waterfront for the sake of a cul de sac developement obviously opushed by something towards the top of the political pyramid.

    A developement along and atop a depressed. covered filtrated Deegan would be far better for everyone.

    But agains, as peraps with the Washington DC South Capitol Mall being cancelled for that Nationals Satdium, when the top of the pyramid wants something, the unthinking mnions just say yes.

  4. Dude-

    You can have the developement.

    But why must it infringe on the much needed ramps? Do you think it makes any sense to add 10,000 residents to an already overcapacity interchange without even leaving room to upgrade the ramps?

    And why jam in an elevated highway rather then what Cincinatti did that would really open up the waterfront, rather then create the cul de sac comminty that you shill for?

    http://cos-mobile.blogspot.com/2009/11/i-87-cromwell-avenue-tunnel.html

    Why do you state that you are concerned with asthma when you will create even more of a traffic jam by not doing the Fort Washington Way with cover and filtration. The “Streetsblog” position is all about the public be damned just to make a developement project a bit more sprawling?

    That NYSDOT has a single meeting announced reportedly 3 days beforehand, and makes a decision on that shows that it is simply cherrypicked with paraochialists- those that pretend that the world past their immediate area does not matter.

    http://cos-mobile.blogspot.com/2009/11/chock-deegan.html

    Any meeting about the Deegan ought to be better announced, including the people using the highway.

    A decision based on such an obviously cherry picked audience, and one so obviously steered to make this cul de sac developement a bit larger is clearly invalid. So does that fact that the matter is unreported by the major newspapers- to keep the general public uninformed. Its all about hoodwinking the public, which the parochialists are good at.

    But yes, the ruling class tool Mark Groton does his work well, as do the handlers of this “community” based opposition that would have Mott Haven become further walled off from the waterfront for the sake of a cul de sac developement obviously pushed by something towards the top of the political pyramid.

    A developement along and atop a depressed. covered filtrated Deegan would be far better for everyone.

    But agains, as perhaps with the Washington DC South Capitol Mall being cancelled for that Nationals Satdium, when the top of the pyramid wants something, the unthinking minions just say yes.

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

  5. “If you cared enough about the expansion of the Deegan ramps, you should have made it your business to be informed and attend the meeting.”

    I do care and I do follow transportation.

    But my, a single meeting barely announced (and even themn only afterwards by TSTC and Streetsblog) and obviously cherrypicked and unannouncd to the using public, and you treat it like gospel.

    By that logic, lets have decision made on a transit project upon as sole barley advertised meeting. By defending the cherry picking process you essentualy state that you favor decisions made by the elite, suger-coated with rhetoric (but not logic) about serving existing communities.

    That is the mark of a top down directed mission where the politicians relied upon their handers, and not any independent anylysis.

  6. “If you cared enough about the expansion of the Deegan ramps, you should have made it your business to be informed and attend the meeting.”

    I do care and I do follow transportation.

    But my, a single meeting barely announced (and even them only afterwards by TSTC and Streetsblog) and obviously cherry-picked and unannounced to the using public, and you treat it like gospel.

    By that logic, lets have decision made on a transit project upon as sole barley advertised meeting. By defending the cherry picking process you essentualy state that you favor decisions made by the elite, suger-coated with rhetoric (but not logic) about serving existing communities.

    That is the mark of a top down directed mission where the politicians relied upon their handers, and not any independent anylysis.

  7. Douglas your opinions are tragic indeed. The new development that we “shill” for is NOT in lieu of new Deegan ramps, it is just coming FIRST. The community does not want to jeopardize in any way the future redevelopment of the site, or the access to the waterfront, so they are redeveloping the community FIRST, at which time the Deegan ramps, should they be necessary in the future, very well can be built and will likely be revisited at some point. HOWEVER, if we build the ramps FIRST, it compromises what can/can’t be done to redevelop the area and will cut-off the waterfront. So why would someone choose to do that first? So your 45 minute commute down the Deegan from Sleepy twig, NY will be 2 minutes faster? Really?

    The community is already shaped enough by highways, off ramps, truck traffic, and commuters like yourself. We do not live around the highways, they live around us…and as such the redevelopment is being built based on the community’s needs and the city’s interests, not your commute.

    What you fail to realize, as most far-flung commuters with no knowledge of the community do, is that they are redeveloping along this site because A: It has substantial underutilized land that is perfectly situated adjacent to Manhattan, and with the benefit of opening the entire waterfront for the FIRST time. and B: It is along TRANSIT routes, including Metro-North, 2/4/5/6 train lines so that those that move into the area are NOT those that are dependent on cars or expect to have driveways. The car traffic thats come with an increase of 5,000 people of which you speak of is typical of new developments in suburbia (where you live), NOT NYC transit based development, which is what we have here.

    Your rhetoric of a ‘cul de sac” community is quite laughable, and reflects your inability to look past your suburban life. What the city is creating here is NOT a closed off waterfront community, it is an OPEN waterfront with parks, green space, outdoor restaurants, pavilions, bike trails, and pedestrian zone. Your are demonstrating a total lack of information regarding this redevelopment, as well as a complete ignorance of the community and how it will reshape the Southern Bronx and move the city forward. But then again, how much would one know about either when they are simply driving through in the mornings and evenings.

  8. (contd)..
    It should also be noted that if you feel so strongly regarding the new Ramps, why don’t you come to the community board #1 monthly meetings and express your opinion. If you believe it is that important, why not educate us and convince us otherwise? You clearly expressed an interest and claim the meetings were “held in secret”, but had you been INVOLVED in the community from the beginning, you would have known all about these meetings. They were not held in secret, they were publicized to EVERYONE with ANY interest. Here is a great way to keep abreast of other such events: Involve yourself with the community instead of relying on random blogs for information and you just might discover alot more that you are missing, and you hopefully will be more capable of forming an educated opinion about the community and its goals.

    If I don’t see you at the next community board #1 meeting, I am sure I will see you sitting in traffic on the Deegan.

  9. You defend a meeting that was essentiallly unannounced to the general public, filled with a group of people steered to protect the maximum amount of space for the developement, disregarding the fact that there is plenty of space for developement and the ramps.

    But some entity at the top wants to jam in a cul de sac developement- why don’t you look at the developement plans on the NYSDOT site which show it as such?

    If you really care for the community (defined as more the general public rather then the developers and their shillers) why no mention of the Fort Washington Way style tunnel with filtration, which would help everyone?

    The shilling for making this devlopement have more space and happen quicker ought to be a textbook example of elitism running amock all for a wealthy cul de sac enclae wedged betwene the waterfront and an elevated highway that I would like to bring down.

  10. Douglass why do you keep repeating that the meeting was unannounced to the general public. IT WAS ANNOUNCED, as are ALL NYSDOT hearings…so please take responsibility for not being informed. It was a full house of people who made it their business to be informed about the project and state their opinions. Had you been involved in the community you would know this, but you are not. So why are you voicing your nonsensicle complaints on this website now?

    There is NO entity at the top that is dictating this development. This clearly demonstrates your profound ignorance as to who is shaping this development: THE COMMUNITY. How many Community Board #1 meetings have you attended? The answer is ZERO. How do I know this? Because this project has been discuss ad nauseum for over a year with the community, local, city, and state officials. Had you attended any of these meeting you would A: Have known when the hearings were and B: Would not be making ignorant, uninformed comments on this website.

    Elitism is not what governs the Mott Haven community, it is the community. Secondly, I would like to know how one could possibly describe this redevelopment as “wealthy.” IT IS AFFORDABLE HOUSING, with parks, bike trails, pedestrain zones, and retail. There is NO “luxury” component/housing of any kind..why? THE COMMUNITY DOES NOT WANT IT. How do I know this? I GO TO THE MEETINGS. And again you describe it as a “cul-de-sac” when in fact it OPENS the waterfront, NOT closes it! You are welcome to keep repeating lies, but it doesn’t make them true.

    The fact remains you know nothing of the community, you do not live in the community, you care nothing for the community, and your sole interest is in shaving 2 minutes off your 45 minute commute down the Deegan from Sleepy Twig, NY. Until you educate yourself about this revdelopment and attend ANY meetings, please refrain from spewing nonsense.

  11. Your sole interest is increasing the available land that is quickly available for this cul de sac developement. The NYSDOT report itself has it has a cul se sac recommeneded in the area of the ramps- perhaps because of the heavy traffic.

    The meeting was hardly advertised — what on a Firday 3 day before the meeting — and filled with people mouthing the exact same thing (apparantly- as I am going by the meger reports) with NONE mentioning the Fort Washington tunnel-filtration concept?

    Why would no one mention these things is they were so concerned or informed?

    Any why is NYSDOT making decisions on a single basically unadvertised meeting apparantly without the users? Why no billboard along I-87 advertising iot to the users? No meetng on a transportation artery should lack advertisement to the people using the facility- but they apparantly do not matter to parochialists such as yourself.

    What you will accommlishe is hemming in the highway, making it 3x expensive to underground, hence confirming the existing hiighway wall. By definition this screws the existing community. but the new developement will sit behind its elevated highway and its presumable heavy sound glass. You will increase pollution and health problems by further over taxing the ramps and making it far more difcult, expensive and unlikely that the highway would be buried and filtrated. Why is it that the upper west side and the Gowanus area advocate for a longer term tunnel solution while the Mott Haven community gets steered to sanction keeping up the wall of the elevated highway?

    You ought to tell the Jesuit Fordham “new urbanists” that we can do far better for Mott Haven.

    How does it feel to sell out your area for pleasing some $#%@& at the top of the political pyramid who wants to get how tower up before he dies?

  12. A small group of people discussing something used by a great deal more people, and discussing it particularly without anything posted to the internet where users are likely to find about it in this day and age, is elitism. If there is to be a discussion about any transportation artery, that must include BOTH those alongside it and those using it- the latter for instance with sighns-billboards announcing the meeting at least 30 days in advance.. Otherwise its is something that NYSDOT has no business basing a decision upon.

    Tellin me that I “care nothing for the community” is a strange charge considering that I am the one addressing concerns about noise pollution with proposing a “Fort Washington Way” ultimate tunnel solution allowing even more developemnt space, while you instead would choose remaining oblivious to anything other than maintaining the existing WALL of an elevated expressway for the sake of building the devlopment a few years quicker- and disregard how much more expensive this sort of anti-developement makes burying and filtering the highway in the future. What you are advoactng is placing developer profit above the broader social good. Apparantly by “community” you certainly mean far fewer people then do I. Everyone else should suffer merely to make the developement a bit larger more quickly.

    Compared to the Riverside South Boulevard and Gowanus Tunnel projects why do you insist upon the extra and quicker space of cramming in the existing elevated highway -placing some 10,000 new residents in such close proximity to the exposed highway and continuing to expose the area to the unfiltered vehicular exaust?

    Can the future generations of people liiving there sue the government for allowing such planning?

  13. Douglass I am very sad to see you are still here making pointless complaints. Why are you here alleging a conspiracy and elitism by the NYSDOT because YOU did not stay abreast to what is happening in MY community? If you have a problem with the standard procedures/announcements the NYSDOT uses to advise the public about hearings, PLEASE TAKE IT UP WITH THEM. Those that cared enough about it made it their business to stay informed, and attended the meeting. Had you attended any Community Board #1 meeting, or this meeting, you would note “elitism” is the last word used to descibe those contesting the Deegan ramp extension.

    If it were up to me I would elminate the Sheridan, greatly limit truck traffic and have 90% of distribution done by rail/barge in and out of Hunts Point, NOT expand any other highways in the city, bury all highways, and filter accordingly. However, life is not fair, and as a result, you must pick and choose your battles…welcome to the real world. The “Fort Washington Way” is a great idea, and if it were up to me I would do it, but let’s get back to reality. The redevelopment will NOT proceed should that requirement be implemented because it is too costly when combined with this new redevelopment.

    So as a community we had a decision to make: Is it more important to redevelop the area, provide a significant amount of new qualilty, affordable housing, parkland, retail, pedestrian zones, bike trails, open waterfront, and improved infrastructure, OR Is it better to expand the Deegan ramps first, which would cut off the waterfront and permanently diminish the potential for this development. The community chose to move forward with this development, and to revisit the extension of the Deegan ramps later, because we have the opportunity RIGHT NOW to make this dream happen. It may not happen again in our lifetimes…as it has taken decades just to get to this point.

    Would the community like to have all highways buried and filtered? YES. Will we kill this development for possibly our lifetime just so that we can get a stretch of the highway buried? NO.

    Had you attended any of the Community Board #1 meetings, you would have had the opportunity to state your case and convince people otherwise. But you chose not to…so you don’t care. If you did care, you would have made it your business to attend the meetings, but instead you choose to complain and whine on a blog.

    We, as a community, and the city of NY, will move forward with this development because we have the opportunity NOW, and will revisit the Deegan ramps and possible “Fort Washington Way” proposal IN THE FUTURE. Don’t like this decision? Get off the keyboard, drive down to the Community Board #1 meeting, and state your case. Otherwise, why do you continue whining on these blogs?

  14. Why is “this” developement– the specific proposal rather then the concept of the area’s redevelopemet?

    Doing the developement first will make burying the highway later way more difficult and expensive- please refer to Brooklyn’s Gowanus Tunnel proposal (NYSDOT) that has evolved towards a waterfront tunnel rather then directly beneath the existing elevated highway. Why should a particular developement plan proceed without study of alternatives, nor cost studies of different such alternative plans?

    Why proceed with this particular plan without even considering a Fort Washington Way “Cromwell Avenue Tunnel” with condifigurations allowing greater flexibility and waterfront access. How after all is hemming in the existing ELEVATED Deegan making the waterfront more accessible for many people?

    BTW- I support widening the highway right of way, but conditionally that it be undergrounded ala the Fort Washington Way.

    As for you last point- because ‘telecommuting” is infintely more practical- though I will gladly attend any future meetings provided at least some advance notice- again, why nothing upon the billboards along that stretch of I-87 if its a decision more broadly community based. Please don’t forget that the meeting was publically announced only 3 day befiorehand- and conspiciously not to the using public, and notably so far unreported by the major NY City newspapers!

  15. And here we go again Douglas. Can somebody please cancel this guy’s internet access. Let’s try this one last time: HAD YOU BEEN TO ANY OF THE PAST 2 YEARS OF COMMUNITY BOARD #1 MEETINGS, YOU WOULD KNOW THAT WE HAVE ALREADY DISCUSSED ALL OF THESE OPTIONS IN DETAIL. YOU WOULD ALSO HAVE KNOWN WE HAVE HAD SEVERAL MEETINGS SPECIFICALLY WITH THE NYSDOT REGARDING ALL OF THESE ISSUES. YOUR IGNORANCE TO WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH THIS DEVELOPMENT IS PRECISELY BECAUSE YOU GET YOUR INFORMATION FROM RANDOM BLOGS AND NOT FROM THE SOURCE: THE COMMUNITY BOARD MEETINGS.

    What you are seeing TODAY is the result of MANY meetings with MANY groups, and we have discussed it and made our decision. IF YOU WANT TO KNOW WHY WE MADE OUR DECISIONS, COME TO THE COMMUNITY BOARD #1 MEETINGS, STATE YOUR OPINION, AND ASK WHY WE HAVE CHOSEN OTHERWISE. THE END.

    And lastly, if you are unhappy with the NYSDOT’s standard procedures for notifying the public regarding their meetings, TAKE IT UP WITH THEM. The Bronx, nor the Community Board, nor anyone else, makes those decisions. IF YOU WANT THE NYSDOT TO PUT UP BILLBOARDS ON HIGHWAYS FOR COMMUTERS, GET OFF THE KEYBOARD, GO TO THEIR OFFICE, AND MAKE THE RECOMMENDATION.

    Why are you continuing to waste everyone’s time with ill-informed arguments/recommendations on random blogs? INFORM YOURSELF. STOP BLAMING THE WORLD FOR YOUR IGNORANCE AND LAZINESS.

  16. Where was any of this done in public on the internet? I for instance frequently research the area highways, such as via Steve Anderson’s nysroads.com, and saw nothing about any meeting.

    In this day and age, why should anyone defend having the discussions — for such an important matter — in such traditionally confined circumstances?

    Did Robert Moses ever so strongly defend keeping the public so un-informed?

  17. I could not be more direct..if you have a problem with the way the NYSDOT announces meetings, take it up with them. Why come here? If you believe their decision is baseless, take it up with them. You have expressed your opinions repeatedly on this site, and nothing has/will change. If you care as you say you do, why have you not attended community boad meetings? Why have you not spokeen to the NYSDOT? You are all hot air….the fumes from commuting in your car for an hour+ every day are getting to you.

    As for the drinks, I am all for them..so long as Douggie is buying.

  18. Why not simply post the info so that interested parties have reasonable time – rather then holding meetings in the dark, with nothing (that I have found) regarding their discussions about the future of the Deegan?

    See Steve Anderson’s excellent site NYC Roads.

    If any “community” board wants to discuss any of the area highway, then have them notify that site so he can include it in his site, which has been the standard for info on the area highways.

    BTW- Under such an invite, how many people would I be buying drinks for? I ask this because some of “Motthavendude”s replies are like they were written by different people- namely regarding my alternative ideas.

    Incidentally, what about building your waterfront development with the foundations designed to accommodate the new underground southbound Deegan tunnel?

    Such would allow your development to proceed with little or no delay, and to proceed FIRST, but without locking in the elevated highway.

  19. I have already stated my opinions regarding this development, and your specific “concerns.” Regarding the outing, you will be buying drinks for one person, the only person that has been writing under this screen name. However I can drink as much as 3 grown men, so although you are buying for one, the net effect is buying for multiple people.

Comments are closed.

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