Slowly across the country, more and more cities are creating new green spaces as well as acres of land for more housing.
They’re doing so by capping portions of highways that slice across their cities like ugly scars.
And this is exactly what we need to do in The Bronx and heal the wounds created by Robert Moses when he cut our beloved borough in half with the Cross Bronx Expressway — America’s parking lot.
With over 200,000 vehicles spewing toxic fumes into the air as they creep along towards their destinations, Bronx asthma rates, as a result, are some of the worst in the nation.
By beginning to cap the Cross Bronx, we can begin to help literally clean up the air in these very vulnerable communities with the added benefit of creating new land that can be used for a combination of open green spaces and to create critically needed housing in our borough.
And this isn’t an entirely new concept for our borough.
Residents and institutions alike have been calling for something like this for years.
One resident in particular, Nilka Martell, founder and Executive Director of Loving The Bronx is working with local officials and capping a small portion in Parkchester.
“Loving The Bronx is excited to be working on capping a small portion of the Cross Bronx Expressway near the Parkchester train station between Virginia Park and Virginia Playground.” said Martell to Welcome2TheBronx.
She added, “We have engaged in conversation with our Senator and look forward to making this a reality. We realize these projects take decades to complete, but we are dedicated to seeing this manifest.”
Several years ago, Welcome2TheBronx reported on a study conducted by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public health which stated that just by decking over 2.4 miles of the notorious expressway would positively impact the lives of almost 230,000 Bronxites by adding almost two months to their life expectancy.
According to the case study, “Deck parks can produce multiple health benefits. Most notably, they remove contact between pedestrians and automobiles. In doing so, they not only reduce accidents but they also encourage active, pollution-free transportation such as biking or jogging. Deck parks also place vehicles in a tunnel, thereby reducing noise and air pollution in surrounding neighborhoods. Finally, deck parks provide green space in which people can exercise and relax. In doing so, deck parks have the potential to reduce diabetes, heart disease, mental illness, cancer, low birth weight, and death associated with accidents.They can also have positive impacts on property values.”
Although that particular study focused on creating a park, we’d like to take it a step further and add truly affordable housing that’s not just rental but with affordable home ownership opportunities as well.
Not only would we help restitch The Bronx and its communities that were destroyed by Moses but we would also help alleviate our current housing crisis and abysmal health rankings.
Less toxic fumes from an expressway = cleaner air and less asthma triggers.
And this isn’t getting rid of the expressway, it’s simply covering it up and letting our borough carry on with a greener, cleaner future for all.
Imagine a day in the future when you can walk across a park instead of a highway spewing deadly pollutants.
It’s possible. We just need the political will and muscle to make it happen.