Prior to WW-II, Eastern Boulevard (later renamed Bruckner Boulevard after a former borough president) was a major thoroughfare through the South Bronx and was an approach to the Triboro Bridge (which opened in 1936). As early as 1936 the Regional Plan Association recommended construction of an expressway on this alignment. Robert Moses made his initial proposal for an elevated expressway in 1951 but political and community opposition delayed its approval until 1956. With its designation as an interstate highway (I-278), the project was eligible for 90% federal funding.
Work on this six-lane, 2.3-mile connector between the Major Deegan and the Sheridan Expressway began in 1957 and was completed in 1962 (NYCRoads.com).
From an engineering and economic standpoint, fitting the elevated expressway in this narrow corridor between the neighborhood on the west and the NYNHH Railroad (later Amtrak) on the east made sense. However, the concerns of neighborhood business owners, residents and the Borough President about the "blighting" effect of elevated expressways proved prescient. Harry DeRienzo remarked that the Bruckner, "...seemed to have been expressly designed to both by-pass and bury this community." (DiRienzo 2008, 22).
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