The Environmental Study of Congestion Pricing Plans asks Bronx residents: What’s the point of that for us?


It wasn’t until years later that Martell realized how common the disease was in her neighborhood — and years before she recognized the highway outside her old window as a potential source.

When her son, now an adult, had severe asthma attacks, she would take him to a local medical center that specializes in children’s respiratory problems. And in his first week of elementary school, I brought his pump to the nurse’s office in case he had an attack. She said the nurse pulled out a storage box that was nearly full from the top with lockable bags with a dozen pumps just like her son.

“I was like, ‘How does that make sense, that all these kids have asthma?’” Martell said.

She added, “I think all New Yorkers are the same. Until it affects you, you don’t care about this problem.”

divided opinion

Potential increases in traffic in some outer neighborhoods, as detailed in the report, are drawing criticism from some who were already skeptical of the congestion pricing scheme.

In a letter earlier this month, a group of New York City elected officials urged Gov. Cathy Hochhol — the Democrat who leads the local traffic board tasked with approving the plan — to withdraw her unwavering support. Almost bipartisan lawmakers Quote It will harm low-income out-of-towners.

Among them was City Council Minority Leader Joe Borrelli, R-Staten Islander, a longtime opponent of crowd pricing.

Meanwhile, some local environmentalists, such as the New York City Environmental Justice Coalition, argue that the overall environmental benefits make the plan worth pursuing.

But Kevin Garcia, NYC-EJA transportation regulator, said he wants “not only net zero negatives, but net positive environmental impacts overall” in the South Bronx.

During the general input period in the MTA, he suggested a number of mitigations and options: Roofing the Cross Bronx Expressway With a concrete platform or garden, to reduce the amount of truck pollution leaking into the nearby air; Target truck emissions in the Hunts Point Produce market, by creating a marine cargo area to reduce truck shipments, ban diesel storage units, and install dockside charging stations.

But none of these suggestions were listed in the most recent EIA. The report notes that there are no federally required mitigation measures to reduce local pollution, although it lists some of the ways the agencies sponsoring the plan will improve air quality in areas of concern. First, the Local Transportation Administration will add additional PM2.5 sensors in real time to monitor “priority sites”.

And after hearing community concerns, the MTA will now send the next major batch of zero-emissions electric buses to Kingsbridge Depot in Upper Manhattan and Gun Hill Depot in the Bronx.

Some local advocacy groups in the Bronx, such as the South Bronx Unite, remain cautious.

They call some of the proposed improvements inadequate dressings. For example, they say that additional monitoring of the air will not get rid of the existing pollution through their ways, Already studied By local public health researchers and community groups.

The neighborhood had already received electric buses as part of the current MTA plan to electrify its entire fleet, although the new decision will speed up the schedule.

Bronx-based Martell argues that mitigation efforts — if considered or accepted by the agencies responsible for the fee plan — should come before more trucks.

“Congestion pricing will be an immediate problem and will have an immediate impact,” she said. “So unless we work together with the government to make sure all of these things happen at the same time, the Bronx will be overburdened.”

But Martell doubts the timeline will work that way. It is leading current efforts to control the Central Bank of Egypt, which requires approval from the federal government. Local agencies are conducting feasibility studies, which they said will not be done for two years.

Asked if the TCA would consider any of the above proposals, McCarthy said in a statement, “As part of the review and response to public comments, the need for any additional mitigation or strengthening measures is being considered.”

Ongoing course in the Bronx

Mychal Johnson, leader of the South Bronx Unite group, sees the past several decades of the environmental history of the South Bronx as a series of government-backed decisions to benefit the region at the expense of his community’s air and lungs.

He worries that fee plans will be the next link in that cycle.

“We always carry the burden,” he said. “We can’t afford more trucks.”

The current proposal reminds him in particular of the saga of the 100-acre Harlem River along the town’s south coast, the centerpiece of a 1970s state plan that promised to reduce the city’s air pollution. Diesel trucks will be replaced by a flood of freight trains pulling into a new railyard on the plot – a rush that never happened.

Instead, Johnson says he can hear the constant buzzing of the spinning engines and the screeching brakes of the government-owned and privately leased pool. Trucks regularly go in and out of the facility, haul trash to a trash pickup station, pick up mail at a FedEx shipping center, and deliver groceries from Fresh Direct’s headquarters, which opened in 2018 Bring more noise and air pollution.

To the east, in the area of ​​850 acres Industrial area overlooking the sea – one of the largest – trucks pass in and out of the Hunts Point Peninsula, which is home to the Hunts Point Market, which described itself as “the largest in the world” Food distribution center.

As part of the drafting of the Environmental Assessment, MTA met with Johnson’s group and several others to obtain feedback on potential impacts on the sanitation communities. After these conversations, a seventh toll scenario was added that would send relatively fewer trucks through the Cross Bronx Expressway per day — 50 trucks is still too much, Johnson argues.

He expressed his fears Back in the public comment period that has been extended through Friday. Along with the environmental assessment, public comment and RTA responses will help the FHA determine if the potential environmental impacts of the congestion plan are significant enough to require further study.

If the answer is no, the plan goes to the Governor’s Traffic Mobility Review Board, which is likely to approve the plan and decide the details, choosing one of the seven considered scenarios or another option. In this case, the fee may be raised and up and running by the end of next year.

Alternatively, the federal government could require a more comprehensive report called an Environmental Impact Statement. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy recently called for this more stringent review in a letter to US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg; His agency runs FHWA. Murphy cited environmental egalitarian concerns in his state.

Meanwhile, Martell suspects that Bronxite fears will keep congestion prices going into the future. She is still concerned about the health of her neighbours, especially the young ones.

“It sounds to me like this ongoing episode of respiratory problems in young children in the Bronx,” she said.


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