The Metropolitan Area Sustainable (MAS) has raised serious concerns about the Hunts Point Project for a variety of reasons, including planning, procedure, and environmental impacts. We believe that the construction of a new ramp from the Bruckner Highway to the Hunts Point food distribution center would have a drastic effect on the South Bronx, a community that has been disproportionately affected by poor planning, destructive road projects, the prohibition of pedestrian access, and the disconnection with the Bronx River and parks in the area. The limited time frame and lack of consideration for the community-approved alternative continue a long history of poor community participation by city and state administrators in large-scale transportation projects in the South Bronx. The communities of Longwood and Hunts Point have long been victims of environmental injustice caused by the construction of roads that cross the neighborhood and the subsequent degradation of water quality and ecological conditions in the Bronx River.
We rely on both scientific data and community research, as well as a collaboration with the Bronx River Alliance, an environmental and community organization, to emphasize the importance of public participation in defining and solving environmental injustices. For more than half a century, the South Bronx has been virtually isolated from the Bronx River, Starlight Park and surrounding neighborhoods due to massive highway projects that ignored the concerns of affected communities. With a part of the district nicknamed Asthma Alley, in addition to being one of the most racially diverse areas in New York City and home to the poorest congressional district in the United States, many think that environmental racism has been perpetuated through policies and speakers for decades. The Department of Transportation funds New York City to help reimagine the highway that crosses the Bronx and bring this project closer to completion, said U. S.
Rep. José Serrano. Throughout the Bronx there are toxic chemicals in the soil, dangerous enough for people who live and work nearby that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has ordered them cleaned up. Nearly 30 percent of residents in the project area live in poverty and the community has some of the highest asthma rates in New York State.
In evaluating the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), special attention must be paid to air quality impacts due to existing high levels of air pollution and asthma rates in the project area. Residents of South Bronx often describe their maritime industrial area, which stretches from Port Morris to Hunts Point, as a “toxic mix” of environmental hazards, including plants in full swing, waste transfer stations and incessant traffic from diesel trucks, which has caused serious environmental and health problems. The New York Power Authority (NYPA) said it is also helping to promote other clean energy efforts, including new transmission lines such as Clean Path NY project, one of two projects selected by NYSERDA in fall to deliver more renewable energy to New York City. This RAISE grant will help finally bring this project to life and make a lasting impact in Bronx for decades. According to draft design document, project will require acquisition of 13,191 square foot lot 160 within Concrete Plant Park, which will then be used for construction, inspection, maintenance and future rehabilitation of new Edgewater Road ramps from Sheridan Boulevard and Bruckner Highway heading east. The MAS is deeply concerned about how this project will affect local communities. We believe that it is essential for city and state administrators to take into account public opinion when making decisions about large-scale transportation projects.
The South Bronx has already suffered from environmental racism for decades due to poor planning decisions that have ignored community concerns. We urge city officials to consider all potential impacts on air quality, water quality, public health, and local businesses before moving forward with this project.