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Sen. Schumer Jumps On Board Plan To Make Environmentally Friendly Changes To Troubled Cross Bronx Expressway

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- It's a billion-dollar plan to heal what some call a concrete scar in the Bronx -- the idea of capping the Cross Bronx Expressway with platforms, creating acres of green space.

Supporters say it will address environmental injustice and now they have the backing of New York's most powerful lawmaker, CBS2's Tony Aiello reported Tuesday.

One hundred feet from the city's most hated highway, there was a powerful endorsement for dramatic change.

"We're here to hit the gas on a plan to mitigate the harmful effects of the Cross Bronx Expressway," Sen. Chuck Schumer said.

Every New Yorker knows the highway is congested, noisy and dirty, with exhaust spiking asthma rates. So, the call to "cap the Cross Bronx" is getting louder.

Cross Bronx Expressway green space
This is what sections of the Cross Bronx Expressway could look like in the future. (Photo: Breadtruck Films)

A video for a similar proposal in Los Angeles provides an idea of the possibilities. Decking would cover the sunken roadway to create green space on top, reconnecting communities cut by the highway.

Special vents would scrub exhaust from vehicles on the covered road.

"We are excited at the possibility of reducing air and noise pollution, increasing connectivity, and the creation of a more seamless public realm," said Nilka Martell, director of the Group "Loving the Bronx."

Senate Majority Leader Schumer is now prioritizing the project as New York seeks funds from the just-passed bipartisan infrastructure framework.

"One of the criteria that goes to the top of the list is undoing environmental injustice, so that's what makes this project way at the top of the list," Schumer said.

The mastermind of the Cross Bronx was once the most powerful unelected official in the Empire State. On Tuesday, speaker after speaker piled on Robert Moses for environmental racism, though the Cross Bronx mostly displaced Jewish, Italian and Irish residents.

"I think what matters is not where the Cross Bronx began, but where it ends, what became it," Rep. Ritchie Torres said.

Torres said it became a burden for Black and brown New Yorkers. Supporters say the burden can be "capped," along with the highway.

Schumer said he has a commitment for funding to study the impact of the project, a necessary first step towards actual construction.

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