With New Fed Infrastructure Funds Coming, Schumer, Torres, Reyes Push To Jump Start Cross Bronx Capping Plan; Urge Approval Of City & State’s First Phase Fed RAISE Grant Application To Mitigate Harmful Effects Of Cross Bronx Expressway (CBE)
Fed Funding Surge Will Fund Major Road Projects; Has $1 Billion “Reconnecting Communities Fund” For Communities, Like The Bronx, Severed By Highways; Reps Push To Plus-Up Funding In BBB
Following the bicameral passage of the bipartisan infrastructure framework (BIF), U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, U.S. Representative Ritchie Torres, and New York Assemblymember Karines Reyes pushed for federal funds to be used to study partially capping the Cross Bronx Expressway (CBE). In addition to potentially using federal highway dollars to advance the project, Schumer, Torres and Reyes said they back New York City and New York State’s federal DOT RAISE grant application, which proposes advancing the long-studied idea to partially cap the roadway by working with the local community to better understand and facilitate biking and bus connections in the east-west corridor near the highway, and ultimately reduce emissions and remove cars from the CBE. New York City Department of Transportation’s proposal includes exploring solutions such as decking, barriers, and safety engineering.
Schumer, Torres and Reyes explained that when the Cross Bronx Expressway was constructed, it bifurcated dense, working-class neighborhoods and displaced 40,000 New York residents, and countless businesses and jobs. The expressway has also had devastating effects on the health of the community, including high rates of asthma, heart disease, lung cancer, respiratory infections and other illnesses because of the significant amount of pollution emitted from vehicles traveling the Cross Bronx Expressway.
“For too long the people of the Bronx have borne the brunt of the consequences of the Cross Bronx Expressway, which literally split these neighborhoods in half and left a legacy of relentless pollution and high disease and asthma rates. That is why we are so glad this historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Congress just passed includes $1 billion dollars in a ‘Reconnecting Communities Fund’, which can be used in the future construction phases of the project,” said U.S. Senator Schumer. “As part of the Build Back Better reconciliation bill, I’m working to secure billions of dollars more for this critical investment in impacted communities. I have also personally advocated with Secretary Buttigieg to fund the proposed community-based study to determine the best solutions and redesign the Cross Bronx sustainably and equitably, including decking, which would reduce pollution and add open space. I’m proud to stand with Rep. Torres, Assemblymember Reyes, Nilka Martell of Loving The Bronx and all the community leaders and advocates fighting for environmental justice here in our communities.”
“The Cross Bronx Expressway is both a literal and metaphorical structure of racism with diesel truck traffic polluting the air residents breathe everyday. Senator Schumer and I are fighting for federal dollars to cap the Cross Bronx and redesign it so that our communities can be healthier, cleaner and safer for all residents. We also urge Transportation Secretary Buttigieg to use his authority to cap the Cross Bronx and help us reimagine a healthier transportation environment for the Bronx,” said Rep. Ritchie Torres.
“For over half a century the Cross Bronx Expressway has divided communities of color and contributed to worse healthcare outcomes for residents of the South Bronx,” said Assembly Member Karines Reyes R.N., of the 87th Assembly District. “With the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the federal government has the chance to right the wrongdoings of Robert Moses and decades of neglect that have subjected Bronxites to the pollution that has caused increased asthma rates in children. I thank Senator Schumer for standing by Bronxites and advocating for the capping of the Cross Bronx Expressway as the Majority Leader of the Senate.”
“This is a historic step towards repairing the damage done by dividing these neighborhoods, and we are eager to get this community-based study moving as quickly as possible,” said DOT Commissioner Hank Gutman. “We look forward to continuing our close cooperation with our State and Federal partners to examine how we can knit these communities back together, while creating badly needed open space, providing better access between neighborhoods and reducing the harmful health impacts of diesel trucks. I want to extend a special thanks to Senator Schumer, Congressman Torres and Assemblymember Reyes for their leadership that made this possible.”
“There is no project grander in our borough than capping the below grade portions of the Cross Bronx Expressway. Loving the Bronx, Inc. is grateful for the leadership and support of Senator Schumer in advancing this project. For far too long Bronxites have been negatively impacted by the Expressway. There is no time like the present to invest in this monumental project,” said Nilka Martell, Founder of Loving the Bronx.
Schumer and Torres explained that the proposed study would be funded with $1 billion in federal money for Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grants appropriated last year, but an additional $7.5 billion included in the bipartisan infrastructure bill for RAISE can be used for the next phase of the project. The bipartisan infrastructure bill also creates the Reconnecting Communities program, providing $1 billion as an initial infusion of funds to focus on projects like addressing the harmful effects of the Cross Bronx Expressway. Schumer and Torres are also fighting for billions of dollars in additional funding for these needs in the Build Back Better reconciliation bill.
Last month Senator Schumer penned a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in support of the application submitted by New York City to the Department of Transportation’s Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant program for their Cross Bronx Expressway Enhancement proposal. Schumer also made a personal call to Secretary Buttigieg to push for funding for RAISE grant proposals in New York.
Schumer, Torres and Reyes were joined by Councilmember-elect Marjorie Velázquez, DOT Commissioner Hank Gutman, Nilka Martell, Founder of Loving The Bronx, and Dr. Peter Muenning, author of the Columbia study on the Cross Bronx Expressway.