President Joe Biden infrastructure package should focus on Cross Bronx Expressway after ‘decades of displacement and disinvestment,’ says Rep. Ritchie Torres!

From the days before social distancing, a 4 train runs over the Cross Bronx Expressway | Viewing NYC

A Typical Day on the Cross Bronx Expressway

Dear Commons Community,

President Joe Biden’s infrastructure proposal may provide funds to The Bronx, which was torn asunder by a Robert Moses highway and other public works projects built in the post-World War II era.  “The Cross Bronx Expressway has left in its wake decades of displacement and disinvestment, as well as environmental degradation,” Rep. Ritchie Torres, told the Daily News.  It should get money under the infrastructure funding President Biden wants to set aside for communities damaged by racist and poor or no planning.  As reported in the Daily News.

“Biden is pushing for some $2.3 trillion for a wide range of projects, from modernizing bridges and highways to building electric vehicle charging stations.

The package includes $20 billion to redress inequities caused by past highway projects, many of them in communities of color, with details still being worked out.

“The time has come for the South Bronx to be lifted by a 21st-century New Deal rather than be haunted by the ghost of Robert Moses,” he said.

In the mid-20th century, Moses, one of the most influential forces in city history, established the east-west expressway as a part of Interstate 95.

The roadway tore up the community, displaced residents and led to heavy pollution that to this day helps make the borough the most unhealthy county in the state, according to the nonprofit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s annual rankings.

Torres said all options, including shutting down the expressway, should be on the table.

“Highway redesign, as well as vehicle electrification, would represent a structural shift on public health in the Bronx,” said the congressman, who expects to meet with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in the coming weeks. “The $20 billion fund is a historic opportunity, and we in the Bronx ought to seize the moment.”

The Biden administration continued to make its case for massive investment in infrastructure over the weekend, saying the proposed spending is all about jobs.

The package would not only recover jobs lost during the pandemic but boost employment in the long term, National Economic Council Director Brian Deese said Sunday.

“We cannot only have a strong job rebound this year, but we can sustain it over many years,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” “That’s the goal.”

The work would be funded by boosting the corporate tax rate — to 28% from 21% — among other steps.”

The Daily News article has the story half right. In addition to the Cross Bronx Expressway, New York City built twenty-story behemoth housing projects throughout The Bronx that further destroyed old-time neighborhoods that had existed there for generations.  It wasn’t just one neighborhood but dozens of neighborhoods forcing people to move out of The Bronx and out of New York City, leaving behind one of the poorest areas of the country according to the US Census Bureau.  This all occurred in the twenty-plus years in the 1950s through the 1970s.

If you want to read about how one Bronx neighborhood was devastated by public works projects, let me suggest Our Bathtub Wasn’t in the Kitchen Anymore by Gerade DeMichele. 




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