The Taking of Pelham’s Trees

Apparently this issue has been around awhile. From a letter to the New York Times, 1999:

To the Editor:

Re ”Drivers Fear Leafy Menace by the Side of the Road” (Sept. 19): Pelham Parkway is not a limited-access highway; it is a parkway, a road that connects Pelham Bay Park with Bronx Park. Coincidentally, it now connects the Bronx River Parkway with the Hutchinson River Parkway and the New England Thruway (I-95). It was designed for light pleasure traffic at speeds of 25 to 30 miles per hour, not 50 to 60 m.p.h.

When people fall asleep at the wheel, are cut off by another vehicle or seek to avoid an animal in the road and hit one of the trees transplanted from the subway construction on the Grand Concourse, it is not the fault of the tree, nor the design of the road. I would hate to see the trees removed simply because motorists are not observing the speed limit.

If the police would enforce the speed limit on Pelham Parkway, the city would make money on the road instead of spending it. If the road could have been redesigned, you could be sure the master builder (and destroyer) Robert Moses would have rebuilt it after his failure to complete the Sheridan Expressway, which would have been the main east-west roadway to compliment the Cross Bronx Expressway.


Morris Park, Bronx

This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 26th, 2009 at 8:36 am and is filed under Roads, Things I Didn't Know, Traffic Culture, Traffic Psychology, Traffic Wonkery. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “The Taking of Pelham’s Trees”

  1. Design New Haven Says:

    Posting this on SeeClickFix, a widely-used website that allows citizens to connect directly with government and rally others to their concerns, can help raise awareness of problems like these.

  2. George D. Says:

    I fully agree with the idea that “maybe” the problem is not the trees but raher the drivers. Please read the following letter that I am getting out to as many groups as possible regarding this planned, needless “destruction” of Pelham Parkway tree: If you are in agreement with this please contact me at me email.


    It has recently come to my attention that there is a planned project, to begin this summer, for so called “reconstruction” of Pelham Parkway, which will involve the cutting down of 87 trees, for “safety” issues.

    As a resident of the Bronx, who goes back to the 1950s in this area, I am adamantly opposed to the cutting down of old tree growth along Pelham Parkway for “any purpose.” The trees along that parkway, and in particular the European Lindens that line the roadways, are not “replaceable.” Cutting down these trees is completely without mind and without appreciation for what Pelham Parkway has always been about; natural beauty and the history of the Bronx. The expedient and wasteful “reconstruction project” that is planned, will degrade that Parkway. I think that this is a complete waste of public funds: at a cost of 47 million dollars this is a completely disproportionate and unjustifiable amount of money for this project. Instead of cutting down trees, it should be spent smartly in building a few new parks, especially for the benefit of kids and teenagers.

    Pelham Parkway was designed to create a continuity of two of the largest park areas in New York City, namely, Pelham Bay Park with Bronx Park (including Botanical Gardens and Bronx Zoo). Mosholu Parkway extends that continuity into Van Cortland Park as well. Every decade or so this hair-brain idea resurfaces but now seems to be seriously taking shape. As I have just found out about this plan; I’m still gathering information, but the basics are clear. I am requesting your support in this and I am going to make every effort to seek out others who react to this plan in the same way that I do. As one who has lived here for most of my life, I cherish Pelham Parkway. To hack into this historic and beautiful landmark that affords so many people a sense of open space and recreation is outrageous to say the least.

    Just because it has “passed” in the meeting rooms of some bureaucrats does not mean it must happen. My aim is to begin with a court order, blocking it, but I would need others to join me. I love this area of the Bronx and if anything is worth fighting for it’s one’s home and immediate environment. Are we just living for barriers, asphalt, and the rationale of self-protection?

    As far as the issue of safety: To prevent drivers from hitting trees, hey should just build the guard barriers and leave it at that, without destroying the trees, as had been done successfully between Williamsbridge and Eastchester Roads. Decades ago, many of these trees were already well established. Planting small trees or saplings in their stead, as this “plan” calls for is meaningless; the full arbor of such trees took generations to grow.

    I cannot take on the forces that have orchestrated this intended project, alone. As such, I am determined to recruit others of like mind and sensibility and prevent this from happening. If you are outraged by this I would appreciate your help or alliance.

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