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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release #08-058

DOT and community leaders unveil a 'grand' new Grand Concourse for the Bronx

Construction to enhance iconic pedestrian plaza and key thoroughfare is completed a full 316 days ahead of schedule, providing the community improved access and a reinvigorated public space.

New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, Congressman José E. Serrano and Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión Jr. today unveiled improvements to the Grand Concourse at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Lou Gehrig Plaza on 161st Street and Grand Concourse in the Bronx. Construction, which included replacing the E. 161st Street underpass arch structure, adding urban landscape design elements to the plaza, and incorporating new roadways, traffic patterns, sidewalks and dedicated bike lanes to improve mobility and safety for pedestrians, motorists and cyclists, finished a full 316 days ahead of schedule. Recreating the public realm and encouraging sustainable transportation are core goals of the Mayor's PlaNYC agenda and DOT's strategic plan. The refreshed look and feel for Grand Concourse will help the community take full advantage of one of the borough's most iconic public spaces.

"Our streets and sidewalks are more than functional corridors for getting around," said Commissioner Sadik-Khan. "They serve as focal points where community, commerce and commuters intersect. The best planned ones address each of these uses to meet current and future demands on the City's infrastructure and the environment. The transformation of Grand Concourse will help it retain its rightful place as a key destination now and in the future-a 'grand' centerpiece that enhances the borough's quality of life."

"I was so pleased to furnish the early resources for this ambitious project that were so sorely needed," Congressman Serrano said. "The Grand Concourse is the beating heart of The Bronx; the Concourse's vitality reflects the community which embraces it. The new look and pedestrian safety features mean that the lower Grand Concourse will once again be the 'Champs-Elysées' of The Bronx. I appreciate the hard work of the City and State to make this upgrade possible. Today we see what can happen when all levels of government work together to improve a boulevard, and by extension a community."

"As we prepare to celebrate the centennial of the Bronx's most prominent thoroughfare, we gather to re-inaugurate the grandeur of the Concourse," said Borough President Carrión. "This new design reflects back on its creators' original vision. The design for the reconstructed boulevard, while improving both pedestrian and passenger safety, serves to beautify and enhance the surrounding neighborhood with raised median planters, abundant trees, attractive street lights and space for promenades and cycling. My thanks to Congressman Serrano for his financial support, to landscape architect Thomas Balsley, and to the City's Department of Transportation."

DOT, in partnership with the community, launched this project in January 2006 as part of its efforts to improve pedestrian and traffic safety, increase accessibility, accommodate sustainable transit modes and enhance the environment. The scope of reconstruction included the E. 161st Street underpass, Lou Gehrig Plaza, E. 161st Street from Sheridan to Gerard Avenues and the Grand Concourse from E. 161st Street to E. 166th Street. This ambitious revitalization, managed by DOT's Bureau of Roadway Bridges, reached key milestones early in the construction timeline, allowing for the entire project to be completed ahead of schedule.

The capstone for Grand Concourse's renewal is the new Lou Gehrig Plaza. Formerly a parking lot, DOT reclaimed this area and transformed it into usable space for pedestrians and passers-by. It now includes three distinctive raised terraces, new granite pavers and steps, ornamental lighting, granite bollards and benches.

As part of DOT's efforts to convert Grand Concourse into a viable, welcoming space for pedestrians, DOT also narrowed service roads with raised planted medians and reduced the size of the intersection of E. 161st Street and Grand Concourse with shortened crosswalks. Among other enhancements, the new boulevard boasts new trees lining the street, new distinctive paving, raised planters, and innovative "M"-pole street lighting and fixtures on both sides of the street.

The work done at Grand Concourse echoes similar citywide initiatives DOT completed earlier this year. Most recently, Commissioner Sadik-Khan and Borough President Carrión unveiled the new Bronx Hub, a major redesign and traffic-calming project around the borough's busiest intersection. The changes included the creation of some 15,000 square feet of new pedestrian plaza and expanded sidewalk space, the addition of 4.8 miles of bike lane and improved transit connections. The revitalization of Grand Concourse-the new roadway configuration, traffic patterns, dedicated bike lanes and upgraded pedestrian facilities and areas-modernizes this famed and celebrated area, ensuring it remains a place worthy of its name in the 21st century and beyond.

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