Thursday, August 2, 2007

Missed Connections

The Sheridan Expressway begins at the point where the Bruckner Expressway veers east across the Bronx River and it ends abruptly at the Cross Bronx Expressway about a mile to the north. Relatively few people use this stretch of road, and traffic (if you can call it that) is sparse even at rush hour. It's no wonder the Sheridan has, over the years, earned the nickname "Highway to Nowhere."

Yet the Sheridan wasn't always destined for such a fate. Robert Moses, the "master builder" that oversaw the Expressway's construction, was never one to take on small transportation projects. This 1950's map of projected construction for new arterial roads in New York shows the Sheridan zooming past the Cross Bronx Expressway to link up with other highways heading north into New England.

There were just a few complications with Moses' plan. After the initial stretch of the Sheridan was built, communities to the north had little enthusiasm for a new highway. In fact, there was outright opposition. The communities organized and fought, alongside their elected officials, to fend off the Sheridan's expansion. And then there was the minor fact (to Moses, at least) that the extended Sheridan would cut through the Bronx Zoo and come disastrously close to the New York Botanical Gardens – an untenable proposition for the well-heeled patrons of both institutions. The expansion never happened, and to this day the Sheridan is a stump of highway taking up valuable land that could be put to better uses.