Our organization has been unable to take a final position on the issue without seeing the yet-to-be done analysis of where the traffic currently on the Sheridan would go in the event of a closure. How much truck traffic will be displaced onto local streets and onto the Major Deegan Expressway, which is already so backed up that for many hours a day diesel trucks are virtually idling, spewing fumes at the nearby schools and homes?
Although we certainly would like to see more park space, the opinions of the neighborhood surrounding the Sheridan have not yet been carefully assessed (for example, would people prefer more housing or a youth recreation center if the Sheridan were to close?). We are currently involved in an air monitoring project at a local school heavily impacted by Sheridan traffic and appreciate the necessity of cleaner air for students and teachers to breathe. However, environmental justice must mean more than “Not in My Backyard,” which would only relocate the very problem we are trying to solve.
A solution has to include improvements in regional transportation planning, including public transportation, reintroduction of passenger ferries to the Bronx and northern Manhattan, building the cross-harbor rail tunnel, and mandating conversion of buses and trucks to cleaner fuels.
Fixing the exposure of our South Bronx neighborhoods to poisonous traffic fumes and developing more recreational space cannot be done one neighborhood and one roadway at a time. We look forward to the transportation study and to more conversations with the closest community residents and hope to have a position at that point.
Jaime Rivera and Marian Feinberg
South Bronx Clean Air Coalition