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Traffic study on mall jams

Bronx Times

With unprecedented development of three shopping malls in its area, Community Board 10 has completed its own study to dealing with expected increased traffic.

Construction is underway of the Throgs Neck Shopping Center on Brush Avenue with Target and T.J. Maxx, an outlet mall is planned nearby for the former Whitestone Cinema location, and construction is also underway for a major indoor mall at Bay Plaza in Co-op City.

With all this development, the community is expressing concern that area roads and infrastructure may not be up to handling increased traffic.

To deal with it, Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.’s office helped Board 10 receive help from Columbia University Urban Planning Fellow and graduate student Francesca Camillo.

She worked with the board to complete the report, titled “Bronx Community Board 10 - A Traffic Management Plan.”

“Up until now, there is no plan out there other than the developer’s plan, which was assembled by traffic engineer Philip Habib,” said CB 10 district manager Kenneth Kearns. “That plan envisions a lot of building, including a bridge, shortening of sidewalks, widening of streets, and basically a lot of capital intensive (costly) situations.”

CB 10’s plan, he said, is a community-based approach that offers no-build and low-build solutions in and around the Bruckner Interchange.

Its recommendations include creating a pedestrian plaza and walkway under the Bruckner Blvd. overhead interchange, a slip-ramp from St. Joseph’s Way to I-95, dedicated truck lane from the southern end of Brush Avenue directly onto the Queens-bound lanes on the Whitestone Bridge, and dedicated road lanes for the malls.

“These are either small-build or no-build alternatives, and it is more like the people’s response to the developers plans which are all capital intensive,” said Kearns.

A key part of the plan is the pedestrian mall which would let shoppers walk the roughly two to three blocks between the Throgs Neck Shopping Center and the planned outlet. It is modeled after a pedestrian plaza on Allen Street between Delancy and Hester place in lower Manhattan.

Camillo also got the idea for a shuttle bus from an IKEA furniture super-store in Red Hook, Brooklyn, where a bus was provided between hubs and the store.

“Because of how close they were, it seemed silly that people with get in their car from one mall parking lot just to drive down the street to another,” said Camillo.

She feels that an environmentally sound electric bus shuttle and a walkable pedestrian plaza would make crossing under the Bruckner Interchange a safe experience.

“This area is walkable,” she said, “but right now, it is scary to walk there,” during the morning and evening rush hours.

A copy of the report has been sent to city and state agencies, said Kearns, who praised Borough President Diaz and Camillo.

The cith Department of City Planning is working on its own Hutchinson River Parkway Study covering the same area to develop traffic solutions.

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393

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