As Cuomo Wins Support for Bridge With No Dedicated Transit Lanes, Funding Request Barrels Forward

Tuesday, August 21, 2012 - 06:29 AM

NY Governor Andrew Cuomo took to the podium at a marina in Piermont, NY, to talk about building a new Tappan Zee Bridge (in background). (photo by Jim O'Grady)

(New York, NY – WNYC) It's going to take at $5.4 billion to build a new Tappan Zee Bridge across the Hudson River north of New York City. Governor Andrew Cuomo gave the project a big push Monday by sending a letter to U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, asking for a $2 billion loan. Cuomo inked the request in front of a small crowd at a marina in the riverside town of Piermont, NY, that he might flourish his pen with the old, and beleaguered, Tappan Zee Bridge in the background.

But the new funding plans include no guarantee that the new bridge will have any form of public transportation, aside from a bus lane.

"The Tappan Zee Bridge is a metaphor for dysfunction," Cuomo said before the signing. He claimed the first plans to replace the bridge were developed before the turn of the millennium, as the bridge neared 50 years old.  "Think of all the hours in traffic people have been sitting on the bridge because that hasn't gotten done, how many wasted dollars patching that bridge," he said. "Think of all the pollution."

It took Cuomo many months to get to the moment. Key members of the The New York Metropolitan Transportation Council, whose approval was needed before the loan could be requested, balked at a plan for the bridge that included no provision for a mass transit operation beyond a bus: options such as rail, light rail or a Bus Rapid Transit system linking to transportation hubs on either side of the Hudson. Cuomo won the votes of those officials by agreeing to form a task force to examine the issue and come up with recommendations.

There is also the question about where the state will get the rest of the money to pay for the massive construction project.  A Cuomo aide  recently raised the possibility of raising the bridge's $5 toll to $14 when the new bridge opens.  But after an outcry, the governor mounted a pro-bridge public relations plan, and then distanced himself from his own staffer's remarks.  Cuomo is known for running a tightly controlled administration, where subordinates generally don't speak out of turn.

In the Piermont speech, Cuomo merely promised to "keep tolls affordable."

And what if, the press asked Cuomo, the federal government doesn't come through with the loan? "I'm an optimist," he said. "They're going to say, 'yes.'" When asked if tolls would be raised even higher if the loan didn't come through, Cuomo repeated, "They're going to say, 'yes.'" Then repeated it a few more times.


Comments [6]


The I-35 Mississippi Bridge in Minn collapsed in August. The river water was at that time of year relatively warm. States have used Stadium taxes as you pay in the greater Houston area on hotels and rent a cars for years. It is Sunday night 7:30 PM in the Third week Feb and the car loads of skiers are returning to the Westchester side from Hunter Mtn and Belaire etc . The traffic is all backed up when the rotted pilings give way and 400 cars full of people go crashing into the freezing ice choked river as with the Northwest plane crash out of National (now Reagan ) airport decades ago the water will be icy cold. The victims not killed as their cars plunge into the water and any who can escape their vehicles with electric windows or children in SUVs and the cross overs with back windows that do not fully open then quickly die of hypothermia. Why would NY St not just add on some bridge taxes where there are business enterprises whose customers are primary users of the bridge? Getting the Feds to approve your planning of a bridge and it's architecture is a long ways from getting the money to build those prefabricated in China bridge segments and then erect them. $5 to $6 Billion will not end like the Big DIG in Boston? That project over the same numbers of years ended costing twice the original estimate. The San-Fran-Oakland Bay bridge replacement creating hundreds of jobs in China! How much will the commuters who use the I-84 bridge get soaked for when the Tappan Zee tolls go to $15 or $20? The additional traffic, and associated on going Maintenance and repair on the Saw Mill, Palisades and Taconic parkways as "they" find their ways around the tolls.

Sep. 30 2012 06:50 AM

I also frequently receive the message that "You are posting comments too quickly. Slow down." when I am posting my first comment of the day. Hitting the back button and then "Post Comment" a second (or third) time usually does the trick.

Aug. 23 2012 03:13 PM
Alex Goldmark

Sorry to hear that Dan. If you can give more details on the technical problems, I can look into them. Thanks. Alex

Aug. 21 2012 12:40 PM

I took a long time to post my comment and then I get an assinine message that I am trying to post my comment too fast; and I lose all that thought because of a tech glitch? Is this any way to get people to participate in publiic debate: to con them into commenting on an issue and then have their opinions go down the bit bucket???

Aug. 21 2012 11:02 AM

Very ludicrous not to have mass transit/rail as part of it now!!

Aug. 21 2012 09:35 AM

Where are the provisions for mass transit (rail transit in particular)? Even if there is no current rail transit infrastructure to and from the bridge currently, there should be a plan for it within the structure. IMHO it is very short sighted not to include it. Politicians are looking backward, it is very short sighted just to include just bus service and not forward to solutions coming, both technical and in business.

Aug. 21 2012 07:23 AM

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