Built in 1963, the Sheridan Expressway (Sheridan) is a 1.25-mile highway connecting the Bruckner Expressway (Bruckner) to the Cross Bronx Expressway. Originally, the Sheridan was supposed to extend an additional 3.5 miles from the Cross-Bronx Expressway to Bronx River Parkway by running through middle class neighborhoods as well as the Bronx Zoo and the New York Botanical Gardens. When wealthy patrons and residents from these communities vocalized their opposition, the project to extend the Sheridan was discontinued, resulting in an expressway that leads to nowhere.
Today, the Sheridan operates at 50 percent below capacity during peak rush hour. Approximately 40,000 vehicles per day use the Sheridan compared with the nearby Cross Bronx that carries between 170,000 and 190,000. Meanwhile, this stretch of highway cuts off residents from important park land and the river, disconnects Hunts Point residents from the rest of South Bronx, allows trucks to spill into residential neighborhoods without providing direct access to the Hunts Points Food distribution center and contributing to dangerous pedestrian conditions, and contributes to pollution in an area with one of the highest asthma rates in the country.
In 1999 the Southern Bronx River Watershed Alliance (SBRWA) formed in response to the New York State Department of Transportation’s (NYSDOT) recommendation to extend the Sheridan Expressway to advocate for the removal of the Sheridan Expressway and its footprint, provide an alternate route for trucks to the Hunts Points Market to improve traffic and pedestrian safety, and build a mix-use development with affordable housing, small businesses, and more open space with greater access to the waterfront in place of the expressway.
In 2006, SBRWA initiated a visioning process that resulted in a community plan to transform the neighborhoods surrounding the Sheridan Expressway. This plan laid the foundation for New York City’s receipt of a $1.5 million competitive Federal grant in 2010 to study potential land use changes to the Sheridan Expressway corridor and Hunts Point area.
In June 2013, heavily influenced by SBRWA’s work, the City unveiled a series of land use recommendations that will begin a transformation of the Sheridan Expressway Corridor and surrounding neighborhoods— if City and State agencies advance the recommendations. While the study did not recommend a full removal of the expressway, it did recommend reconnecting the city grid by developing a boulevard for the portion of the Sheridan that is at street level, reducing the number of lanes from eleven to five, adding crosswalks and building ramps on the Bruckner for direct vehicular access to the Hunts Point peninsula, among other key recommendations.
In March 2017, Governor Cuomo announced a budget commitment of $700 million to address multiple issues related to the Sheridan-Bruckner interchange, re-stating his commitment to a boulevard with crosswalks that connect to the Bronx River and parks, and direct truck access to the Hunts Point peninsula. Read the SBRWA’s statement on the announcement here.