I-Team: Bronx Residents to Sue City Over $40M Road Project

FDNY ladder truck has trouble on Bronx street after street design rules were changed

Some Bronx residents are planning to sue the city over the reconstruction of Pelham Parkway South, the I-Team has learned.

Dozens of residents lined the streets Monday to protest the narrowing of the road and announce the lawsuit. They chanted, "Hey hey, ho ho, Pelham Parkway's too narrow," as they flowed into the parkway, blocking traffic. 

The protesters claim the $40 million reconstruction is putting them in danger, making it difficult for emergency vehicles to navigate the newly narrowed street as well as turns onto residential side streets.

"My biggest fear is death," said demonstrator Pat Cambria. "I'm concerned really, because what's going to happen when a fire truck can't get through and there's not enough time?"

The FDNY requires any private access roads in new construction to be at least 30 feet wide -- and preferably 38 feet -- to accommodate emergency vehicles, but the same rules do not apply to public streets.

With the new sidewalk on Pelham Parkway South, the road is now only 26 feet and when cars are parked on both sides it narrows to just 11 feet down the center.

It’s just enough to allow a fire truck through, but home video taken by a resident shows a ladder truck having difficulty turning from a side street -- making several attempts and taking several minutes to completely negotiate the move.

The video was shot as the FDNY and Department of Transportation was conducting a test on the refurbished road to determine if its trucks and personnel could respond quickly in case of emergency.

"They took five and a half feet away from the original road," said protester Frank Vignali. "Here, they're spending $40 million on a project, and they're making the road narrow. It just doesn't make sense."

The five and a half feet went to a new sidewalk, which residents want shifted back into the grass area.

In a joint statement to the I-Team in July, the city’s Department of Design and Construction and DOT said the roadway is “standard width in New York City, and, in fact wider than many other streets in the area.”

The I-Team measured several surrounding streets, both perpendicular and parallel to Pelham Parkway South, and none was shorter than 33 feet wide.

FDNY Code calls any road under 38 feet “substandard.” Representatives from the Fire Department did not comment for this story.

As a result of the ladder truck test, the FDNY is requesting that some parking be eliminated on Pelham Parkway South to allow for easier access of fire trucks. Residents vehemently oppose the idea.

The protesters said they don't see any other option but to sue.

"The concerned citizens of Pelham Parkway South have been forced to bring this to court," said a demonstrator. 

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