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The Cross Bronx Expressway is a major expressway (freeway) in the New York Citymarker borough of the Bronxmarker, conceived by Robert Moses and built between 1948 and 1972. It helps carry traffic on Interstate 95 through the city, and serves as a portion of Interstate 295 towards Long Islandmarker; a portion is also designated U.S. Route 1.

The Cross Bronx begins at the Alexander Hamilton Bridgemarker over the Harlem Rivermarker, where the Trans-Manhattan Expresswaymarker continues west across Upper Manhattan to the George Washington Bridgemarker. While I-95 leaves at the Bruckner Interchangemarker in Throgs Neckmarker, following the Bruckner Expressway and New England Thruway to Connecticutmarker, the Cross Bronx Expressway Extension continues east, carrying I-295 to the merge with the Throgs Neck Expressway near the Throgs Neck Bridgemarker.

The Cross Bronx Expressway was an engineering marvel, being the first highway built through a crowded urban environment; the most expensive mile of road ever built is part of the Cross Bronx, costing $40,000,000. At one point during construction, Moses' crews had to support the Grand Concourse (a major surface thoroughfare), a subway line and an elevated train line while the expressway was laboriously pushed through. However, the highway has severe traffic problems, and its construction has also been blamed for devastating a number of low-income neighborhoods in the South Bronx.

Route description

Eastward from Metropolitan Avenue
The Cross Bronx Expressway begins at the eastern end of the Alexander Hamilton Bridgemarker as a continuation of the Trans-Manhattan Expresswaymarker and officially designated as both I-95 and US 1. Immediately after coming off the bridge, there is an interchange with the Major Deegan Expressway (I-87) for Yankee Stadiummarker and points upstate. The highway soon intersects with Webster Avenue at a partial interchange allowing eastbound vehicles to exit and westbound ones to enter. Northbound US 1 leaves the Cross Bronx Expressway at this exit. About one and half miles later, comes a pair of closely-spaced interchanges for the Sheridan Expressway (I-895) and the Bronx River Parkway. The exit for the Sheridan Expressway is an incomplete interchange and allows access from northbound and to southbound I-95 only.

The Cross Bronx Expressway reaches the Bruckner Interchangemarker two miles (3 km) later. Going eastbound (I-95 northbound), the interchange allows access to southbound I-678, northbound I-95 (Bruckner Expressway) and southbound I-295. I-95 leaves the Cross Bronx Expressway here and continues north along the Bruckner Expressway. The Cross Bronx Expressway continues east of the interchange as I-295, which begins here. The Cross Bronx ends later at the Throgs Neck Expressway, where traffic from Interstate 695 merges on towards the Throgs Neck Bridgemarker.

History

Traffic congestion is very common on the Cross Bronx Expressway
The 1929 Report on Highway Traffic Conditions and Proposed Traffic Relief Measures for the City of New York was the first citywide traffic study, classifying a number of projects that had been proposed by local interests. A "Cross-Bronx Route" along 161st and 163rd Streets was one of two proposed facilities, along with the "Nassau Boulevard" (which became the Long Island Expressway), picked by borough engineers as examples of important projects. Although this routing was south of the present Cross Bronx Expressway, the report did suggest a "New Cross-Bronx Artery" near the present expressway that would link the Washington Bridge with the Clason Pointmarker Ferry to Queensmarker. Though it would not be built to freeway standards, it would be 60 feet (18 m) wide with grade separations "where considered necessary and desirable". The George Washington Bridgemarker then under construction was cited among reasons to build the highway, which would help connect New Jerseymarker to Long Islandmarker via the bridges and ferry.

The New York City Planning Commission adopted a plan in late 1940 for a network of highways. Except for the Bronx and Pelham Parkway, which lay to the north, no cross-Bronx highway had been built. The report stated that the "Bronx Crosstown Highway", which would now connect on the east end to the Bronx-Whitestone Bridgemarker (which had replaced the Clason Point Ferry), was "an essential part of a desirable highway pattern", taking traffic from the George Washington Bridge to Long Island and New Englandmarker. The cost was estimated at $17,000,000, higher than most improvements because of the "topographical conditions, high land values, and heavily built-up areas".

In 1936, the Regional Plan Association (RPA) proposed a Cross Bronx highway which would connect the George Washingtonmarker, Triboroughmarker, and Bronx-Whitestone Bridgesmarker, as well as access to points north to New England. Five years later, the New York City Planning Planning Department recommended construction of the "Bronx Crosstown Highway."

Robert Moses proposed a six-lane expressway to run through the heart of the South Bronx in 1945 when the South Bronx was far south of the route. This project proved to be one of the most difficult expressway projects of the time: construction required blasting through ridges, crossing valleys and redirecting rivers. In doing so, minimal disruption to the apartment buildings that topped the ridges in the area of Grand Concoursemarker was a priority. Moreover, the expressway had to cross 113 streets, seven expressways and parkways (some of which were under construction), one subway line, five elevated lines, three commuter rail lines, and hundreds of utility, water and sewer lines, none of which could be interrupted.

Construction began in 1948. The roadway was carefully constructed with twelve-foot wide lanes and ten foot wide cobblestone shoulders. In 1963, the last of the three sections of roadway between the Alexander Hamilton and Throgs Neck Bridges were finished, completing the Cross Bronx Expressway.

Deegan interchange
The first portion, from the Bronx River Parkway east to the Bruckner Interchangemarker, opened on November 5, 1955, at the same time as parts of the Queens Midtown and Major Deegan Expressways. When the Throgs Neck Bridgemarker opened on January 11, 1961, the Cross Bronx was extended east as one of its two northern approaches. (The extension was part of I-78 until 1970, when it became I-295, its current designation.) A one-mile (1.5 km) western extension to a temporary interchange with Boston Road opened on April 23, 1956, and on April 27, 1960, another 1.2-mile (2 km) piece opened, taking the road west to Webster Avenue. The short 0.6-mile (1 km) piece from Webster Avenue west to Jerome Avenue opened on February 10, 1961. With the opening of the Alexander Hamilton Bridgemarker in April 1963, the $128 million Cross Bronx was completed. This was, however, not the end of construction; the $12.6 million Highbridge Interchange with the Major Deegan Expressway (I-87) opened in November 1964, and a $68 million reconstruction of the Bruckner Interchangemarker, allowing Bruckner Expressway (I-95/I-278) traffic to bypass the old traffic circle, opened on January 2, 1972. (Cross Bronx traffic passing through to the Throgs Neck Bridge had been able to avoid the circle, but drivers taking the Bruckner in either direction, including those bound for New Englandmarker, had to exit onto the surface.)

Controversy

Many have blamed the Cross Bronx Expressway for worsening the decay of neighborhoods in the South Bronx, with the prominent example being the neighborhood of Tremontmarker. In Robert Caro's The Power Broker, the author argues that Moses intentionally directed the expressway through this neighborhood, even though there was a more viable option only one block south. Many of the neighborhoods it runs through have been continually poor since before its construction, primarily due to the lowered property value caused by the Expressway. This is partially responsible for the public opposition to many other planned expressways in New York Citymarker that were later cancelled – in particular, the Lower Manhattan Expressway.

Traffic problems

The expressway is one of the main routes for shipping and transportation through New York City due to its connections with New Jerseymarker via the George Washington Bridgemarker, Long Islandmarker via the Throgs Neckmarker and Whitestone Bridgesmarker, Upstate New Yorkmarker via Interstate 87 northbound and the Bronx River Parkway, Manhattan via Interstate 87 southbound to the Robert F.marker Kennedy Bridgemarker, and New Englandmarker via the New England Thruway (Interstate 95) and the Hutchinson River Parkway.

However, the expressway is known for its extreme traffic problems; on a typical day 145,000 vehicles travel on the six lanes of highway the road contains, and it is not uncommon for truckers to use the Cross-Westchester Expresswaymarker to the Major Deegan Expressway to get around this stretch of I-95. Proposals have been made to add a second deck to the road, although to no avail.

In both 2008 and 2007, Inrix cited the Cross Bronx Expressway's west-bound exit 4B (Bronx River Parkway) as being the worst intersection in the US. In 2008, the expressway's exits included three out of the top four on the list, and four of the top five in 2007.

Exit list

Location Mile # Destinations Notes
Morris Heightsmarker 0.00 Alexander Hamilton Bridgemarker over the Harlem Rivermarker
0.07 1C
0.65 2A Jerome Avenue
Tremontmarker 1.28 2B East end of US 1 overlap; eastbound exit and westbound entrance
1.86 3 Third Avenue Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
West Farmsmarker 2.64 4A Eastbound exit and westbound entrance
Soundviewmarker 3.00 4B
3.70 5A White Plains Road, Westchester Avenue
Castle Hill
5B Castle Hill Avenue Eastbound exit and westbound entrance
Throgs Neckmarker 5.05 6A Eastbound exit and westbound entrance
5.05 Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
5.05  – New Englandmarker East end of I-95 overlap; west end of I-295 overlap; eastbound exit and westbound entrance
11 Randall Avenue
6.5 Cross-Bronx Expressway ends at the Throgs Neck Expressway


Notes

  1. New York City Department of Transportation, Truck Routes, accessed November 2007: shows that the Cross Bronx Expressway Extension ends at the Throgs Neck Expressway, while the Throgs Neck Expressway continues to the Throgs Neck Bridge
  2. New York Times, Call Traffic Study City Planning Aid, October 29, 1929, p. 32
  3. Harland Bartholomew, Report to the Honorable James J. Walker, Mayor, on Highway Traffic Conditions and Proposed Traffic Relief Measures for the City of New York, Day & Zimmermann, 1929, OCLC 35914068
  4. H.M. Gousha Company, New York City area, 1941
  5. New York Times, Pattern of Highways for the City as Proposed in Board's Master Plan, November 21, 1940, p. 39
  6. New York City Planning Commission, Major Reports of the City Planning Commission (serial), OCLC 47079852
  7. Joseph C. Ingraham, New York Times, Around the Town: New York City's System of Bypasses Is Beginning to Take Shape, January 1, 1961, p. X17
  8. New York Times, Expressway Growing: Cross-Bronx Artery Will Be Extended a Mile Today, April 23, 1956
  9. New York Times, Cross-Bronx Route to Add Section, April 25, 1960, p. 23
  10. New York Times, Cross Bronx Highway Link Ready, January 31, 1961, p. 13
  11. New York Times, New Bridge Completes L.I.-to-Jersey Bypass, April 14, 1963, p. 528
  12. Joseph C. Ingraham, New York Times, New York Bypass: Narrows Bridge Adds More New Ways To Avoid City's Traffic Jams, November 15, 1964, p. XX1
  13. New York Times, Expressway Ramps Opening, November 19, 1964, p. 39
  14. Frank J. Prial, New York Times, The Bruckner Interchange Open at Last, December 21, 1972, p. 77
  15. New York Times, Metropolitan Briefs, December 31, 1972, p. 36
  16. Rand McNally Road Atlas: United States, Canada and Mexico, 1964
  17. NYC Roads


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