South Bronx may be able to become much safer place than in the past

Jean Vinals, Special to The Record

The Sheridan Expressway Campaign was created in 1999 when a group of local activists discovered and researched the history of the Sheridan Expressway, as well as its effects on various neighborhoods in the South Bronx. These local activists discovered that the Sheridan Expressway has been underutilized for over a decade and restricts residents from accessing the Bronx River.

The Sheridan Expressway was designed by a city planner named Robert Moses. Robert Moses was known to be a very racist man because he designed the Sheridan Expressway to bypass “ghetto,” low income neighborhoods in the South Bronx.

In Michael Powell’s article called “A Tale Of Two Cities” published on May 6, 2007 on, the author quoted Theodore Kheel. Kheel referred to city planner Robert Moses as “hostile to mass transit and hostile to poor New Yorkers.”

Local activists have teamed up with multiple activist organizations in the South Bronx to form an alliance of which is called the Southern Bronx River Watershed Alliance (SBRWA). The SBRWA includes activist organizations such as the Pratt Center, Nos Quedamos, Tri State Transportation Campaign, Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, Sustainable South Bronx and The Point Community Development Corporation.

Activist organizations like The Point CDC have programs that teach and engage youth in environmental and social activism, such as the youth activist program A.C.T.I.O.N. (Activist Coming To Inform Our Neighborhood).

Alongside the rest of the SBRWA, A.C.T.I.O.N. has been researching, lobbying and protesting for the removal of the Sheridan Expressway. The SBRWA has been fighting for this cause for over a decade, but has yet to achieve their goal of removing the Sheridan Expressway because it has not gained enough support from New York City residents.

It is vital that New York City residents support the SBRWA and help fight for positive reform in the South Bronx.

The SBRWA asks that New York City residents attend their yearly protest rallies and informational meetings to support the Sheridan Expressway. With the support of New York City residents, the South Bronx will not only get a step closer to achieving a healthier and safer environment, but will also create social reform, which will help protect low income neighborhoods from future hostile decisions.

It is very important that New York City residents in all neighborhoods support the Sheridan Expressway campaign, for multiple reasons.

The Sheridan Expressway is only one and a quarter miles long, and goes from Longwood Avenue to East 174th Street, which means that it bypasses the Hunts Point neighborhood. The Hunts Point neighborhood is an industrial neighborhood with an overwhelming amount of pollution, and is known to have one of the highest asthma rates in the nation.

This is due to the 15,000 trucks coming in and out of Hunts Point’s local streets daily. Those 15,000 trucks are all picking up and delivering food from the food distribution center.

Hunts Point houses the largest food distribution center in the nation. The Hunts Point food distribution center provides meat and other produce to food markets and grocery stores all over New York City.

The 15,000 trucks that are coming in and out of the Hunts Point local streets find it easier and faster to drive through the local streets than using the Sheridan Expressway. Not only do these 15,000 trucks add on to the pollution and high asthma rates, but also makes it very dangerous for pedestrians to cross local streets.

After decommissioning the Sheridan Expressway, the SBRWA also promotes the idea of creating a boulevard that would be beneficial to the community. The boulevard that the SBRWA imagines will include parks and green space to help alleviate the air, and possibly lower the asthma rates.

The boulevard will also provide affordable housing, which is in high demand in the South Bronx. This plan can only be achieved through the support of New York City residents.

In Adrian Carasquillo’s article called “10 Cesar Chavez Quotes: The Man He Was and the Legacy That Lives On,” published on March 31, 2013 on the author quotes Cesar Chavez.

In this quote, Chavez said, “It’s amazing how people can get so excited about a rocket to the moon and not give a damn about smog, oil, leaks, and the devastation of the environment with pesticides, hunger, and disease.”

Chavez highlights the fact that people should care about others health and work as a team to create a much stronger and more sustainable environment. Supporting the Sheridan Expressway campaign will help bring environmental justice to neighborhoods in the South Bronx that have been suffering as a result of the decisions made by careless city planners.

Many New York City residents might argue that it’s impossible to transform something that has been around for such a long time.

The SBRWA has been fighting to gain momentum to achieve the overall goals of the Sheridan Expressway Campaign for over a decade and is yet to have any success.  New York City residents might ask themselves, “Why should we support a campaign that has not had much progress in over 10 years?”

The Sheridan Expressway campaign has been very much ignored by city officials for a long time. Some New York residents might argue that it’ll be easier to simply let the Sheridan Expressway stand.

New York City residents are often unaware that many facilities have been transformed from their original usage and turned into other beneficial amenities. A perfect example would be the Highline Park.

The Highline was originally an abandoned railroad that was located in the Lower West Side of Manhattan since 1934. The highline is now a public park and a very famous tourist attraction.

The Highline proves that it isn’t impossible to decommission and transform a facility that has been around for a long period of time. In the New York Times article by Sam Dolnick called “Unlikely Plan to Remove Sheridan Expressway Gains Momentum” published on July 13, 2010, Dolnick wrote,“the city approves the idea to create new ramps from the Bruckner that would improve access to the Hunts Point market.”

Dolnick proves that the Sheridan Expressway has slowly been gaining momentum and grabbing the attention of elected officials.

Communities in the South Bronx have faced an abundance of environmental injustices for a very long time and are still continuing to fight for healthier and safer living conditions all around. The South Bronx has been sacrificing a lot so that neighborhoods all over New York City can have good quality food in their food markets and grocery stores.

New York City residents can give back to the South Bronx by supporting the Sheridan Expressway Campaign. New York City residents can support the Sheridan Expressway by attending the SBRWA protest rallies or informational meetings.

All information regarding the SBRWA protest rallies and informational meetings can be found on the SBRWA website.

In author Zaid Hassan’s article called “The Six and Seven Axioms Of Social Change: Margaret Mead’s Gift,” published in July 2005 on, the author quoted activist Margaret Mead.

Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Along with the support of as many New York City residents as possible, the South Bronx, as a whole, can become one step closer to achieving healthier and safer living conditions.

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