BRONX — A busy intersection is set to be redesigned to increase pedestrian safety and provide better access to a nearby park and the Bronx River Greenway, officials said.
City agencies including the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) are planning to include new open space, better organized roadways and safer pedestrian crossings at 177th Street and Devoe Avenue.
The main purpose of the project is to provide better access to the nearby Starlight Park and create the Bronx River Greenway connection, according to the DOT. The department is still working with DDC on the final design.
The project will essentially merge the sections of 177th Street and Devoe Avenue that currently run parallel to each other.
The junction, which now features traffic islands in the midst of wide driving lanes, has been criticized as a difficult place to walk and maneuver.
"The new plan will make it safer for pedestrians," said DDC spokesman Craig Chin in an email. "A new mid block signalized crossing will be added on Tremont Avenue along with the new open public space and raised pedestrian islands. Traffic signals, water mains and sewers will also be upgraded."
Maggie Greenfield, director of programs and development at the Bronx River Alliance, said the plan was a "critical link" in the Bronx River Greenway, a continuous system of parks and bike/pedestrian trails that is planned to stretch along the Bronx River from the Kensico Dam in Valhalla to the East River. She described the Alliance as a big supporter of the plan.
"In the South Bronx in particular, they have a lot of great new parks that have opened up recently," she said. "They don’t really connect yet, and so making these final connections are really important so that people can use their parks and their neighborhood park, but they can also travel between them and access all the parkland that exists along the river."
The city anticipates starting construction in August of 2015 and estimate that it will take about 18 months to complete. Goals of the project include widening the Sheridan Expressway Bridge at 177th Street, building new medians with trees and upgrading street lighting, signals and signs.
"Overall, the main concept is really strong," Greenfield said, "and we do support it enthusiastically."