The governor announced a $1.8 billion project on Sunday that would reconstruct the notorious mile-long highway, which runs along the Bronx River in the South Bronx. The road would no longer be designated as an interstate highway, and its new design would aim to better connect residents to Starlight Park and the Bronx River Waterfront.
"While plans have been proposed and languished for decades, we're taking action to finally right the wrongs of the past by reconnecting South Bronx communities that have dealt with unnecessary barriers to revitalization and growth," Cuomo said in a statement.
Cuomo's office described the Sheridan Expressway as an obsolete segment of the interstate system that has made it extremely difficult for Bronxites to get to their borough's waterfront and parks.
The new Sheridan Boulevard design would include decorative lighting and landscaping, and it would be geared toward pedestrians and cyclists, with features including crossings that provide direct access to Starlight Park and the Bronx River.
The plan also aims to improve access to the Hunts Point Market by providing a direct route to it via Sheridan Boulevard and the Bruckner Expressway, measures which the governor's office says will cut down on noise and air pollution in The Bronx by reducing the amount of traffic using the borough's local roads.
The Bruckner Expressway will get a new eastbound exit leading to Edgewater Road, which goes into the Hunts Point Market, and Sheridan Boulevard will include a flyover ramp that should help get more trucks and traffic out of Bronx neighborhoods, according to Cuomo's office.
The project will feature a new pedestrian bridge as well that will cross the Bronx River and link Starlight Park to the multi-use path across the waterway, and it will add a third lane to the Bruckner Expressway that runs in both directions.
The first phase of the project will be funded with $700 million in this year's budget, and Cuomo's office expects work on the Sheridan Boulevard to begin in 2018. The new boulevard is expected to be finished by the spring of 2019.
"The Sheridan Expressway is a critical artery for the Bronx," Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said in a statement, "and this plan will transform it into a safer, more business friendly route that will better connect the Bronx community.”
Bronx residents have long fought for better waterfront access throughout their borough, and Mychal Johnson, a longtime environmental advocate for The Bronx, said he was curious to hear more about how or if the Sheridan Expressway plan could benefit parts of the borough that were farther south.
However, he said he was strongly supportive of the plan's goal to provide people with better access to the Bronx River.
"That’s definitely a good idea," he said. "Any attempt to do that is exactly what’s needed."