A rendering of plans for Lafayette Avenue, with a planted median, standard painted bike lanes, and amenities along an expanded sidewalk. Image: NYCEDC
Construction is set to begin on the first stages of the South Bronx Greenway
this summer, marking the first tangible results of a community-based, bottom-up campaign for more livable streets. The project will bring safer walking and biking and much-needed green space to neighborhoods where people-oriented streets are in short supply.
The redesigns of Lafayette Avenue and Hunts Point Avenue, as well as new waterfront park space at Hunts Point Landing, will all begin construction this summer, according to the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Those streets will receive landscaped medians, expanded sidewalks, and new bike lanes. Work on Food Center Drive, which will include the first physically protected bike lane in the Bronx, is scheduled to begin this fall.
Implementation is close enough that people are getting excited about each construction truck that comes to the area, even though so far the crews are just doing regular road maintenance, said Miquela Craytor, the executive director of Sustainable South Bronx and a longstanding advocate for the greenway.
Construction of the Randall's Island connector, which will eventually tie the South Bronx Greenway into the Manhattan bike network, is scheduled to begin in fall 2011, according to EDC. Adding a biking and walking path from the South Bronx to Randall's Island will give residents better access to the island's recreational facilities and provide a safe route to the new bike lanes planned for First and Second Avenue in Manhattan. When the connector is finished, said Craytor, the greenway will be between a quarter and a third complete.
What's about to be built differs somewhat from the original plans for the greenway, first put forward in 2006. In particular, plans to place pedestrian and bike paths along a median on Lafayette Avenue have been revised, with space for biking and walking shifted to the side of the street at the request of the Fire Department and the Department of Environmental Protection.
"We ended up putting quite a bit of that streetscaping to the sidewalk and expanding the sidewalk," said Craytor, noting that the center median will remain planted with trees and shrubs. She isn't particularly disappointed. "We successfully pushed back and ensured that the concept of slowing down traffic and narrowing the street was increased," said Craytor. "This will be an area for people, not vehicles."
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