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Bronx Residents Say Pelham Parkway Too Narrow After Construction Aimed At Safety

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Pelham Parkway service road in the Bronx. (credit: CBS 2)

Pelham Parkway service road in the Bronx. (credit: CBS 2)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Did the city go too far in fixing what it says was a dangerous situation?

Residents along a stretch of the Pelham Parkway service road in the Bronx say changes to their street have made things worse, not better.

New street signs are going up at the end of the service road at Pelham Parkway South, but residents along the road have put up their own signs saying the area is a danger zone.

“It’s going to be more dangerous because the road is going to be narrower,” resident Dr. Juan Afif told CBS 2’s Don Dahler.

“It’s just a hassle,” added Dominic Meliti.

The city said the stretch of Pelham Parkway has been a high accident area since the 1980s, in part, because of the stately trees that line it. Over the years, the trees got so big some they were actually growing into the street.

“We’d had people that had gotten killed on the parkway, people that were maimed and it was time to get it done,” said John Fratta, the assistant director of Community Board 11.

In order to deal with the big, old trees that were encroaching on the roadway, the city got federal money. But federal money always comes with a catch.

In this case, sidewalks on both sides of the street had to conform to the Americans with Disabilities Act. The new sidewalks ate up about four feet of street on one side, and a few more feet of the residents’ driveways and front yards that had stretched onto city property over the years.

The roadway is now said to be 26 feet instead of 30, which is considered the standard width for a one-way street in New York.

“They’ve made the sidewalk so much wider so that the road is more narrow.  So when cars are parked on either side of the road…you have to be very careful and drive down as straight as possible in order not to hit any of the cars,” Anna Paternoster told 1010 WINS.

“I think they have made the whole situation worse than it was to begin with,” added Dr. Steven Oken.

The homeowners have been forced to fix their own driveways and front walls at their own expense. Fratta said that and the fear of some loss of parking spaces is what people are really mad about.

“I think the concerns that the people have is just what if they determine the roadway is just too narrow, then they’re only alternative would be to remove the parking.  But DOT is saying that’s not going to happen,” Fratta said.

Fratta also said the street’s improvements will eliminate the constant flooding, which has plagued the stretch of the Pelham Parkway for decades.

The $14 million project should be finished by next week.

A public hearing is scheduled for April 9 at nearby Jacobi Hospital, during which city officials will address the residents’ concerns.

Meanwhile, the city’s Department of Design and Construction responded by releasing the following statement:  “In order to provide parking on both sides of the roadway, as requested by many community members, we must install sidewalks on both sides that are compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act.  We are doing our utmost to improve Pelham Parkway South and make it safe and accessible for all area residents.  The roadway’s travel lane is the standard size in New York City.”

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