Although the future Tappan Zee Bridge’s high tolls will force commuters into a tight financial situation—currently, there is no attractive public transit alternative to driving across the bridge—several local officials spoke out in favor of the Cuomo administration’s cars-first Tappan Zee Bridge replacement plan this week. But even as the governor’s office inundates the public with releases intended to show support for the project, it’s clear that the region’s officials continue to view transit as essential. Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell, Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef, and Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino have withheld their imprimaturs amid the flurry of co-signs, and the statements of public officials on Governor Cuomo’s own press releases show that transit is this project’s missing piece. Nearly every figure that championed the project in an August 8th release mentioned transit:
“…it will be ready to handle mass transit…” said State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson.
“After more than a decade of idle talk, we must act now to address our region’s long-term transportation needs. Governor Cuomo’s plan to build a smarter, safer, transit-ready bridge is the best way to proceed…” said State Senator Jeff Klein.
“The presentation by the Governor’s team also demonstrates a clear commitment to the long term transit needs of the region…” said State Senator William J. Larkin, Jr.
“It makes far more sense to spend limited funds on the new bridge, which will be wider, safer for drivers, and large enough for mass transit options…” said State Senator Suzi Oppenheimer.
“It’s a new, transit-ready bridge that will be safer and less congested, with the potential to serve our region’s transportation needs into the next century,” said State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins.
“The best way to provide relief to Tappan Zee commuters is to move forward now with Governor’s Cuomo plan to build a new, safer bridge that will have express bus lanes from the day it opens and will be built to accommodate any mass transit options our communities decide to pursue in future years…” said Assemblymember Ellen Jaffee.
“The Governor’s plan recognizes that the smartest option is to build a new bridge that is wider, safer and able to accommodate whatever mass transit make sense [sic] for the region in the coming years…” said Assemblymember Amy Paulin.
“The new bridge will be…built to accommodate mass transit,” said Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow.
“We are at a critical moment for Rockland County bridge commuters and all who use the Tappan Zee, and it is clear that the smartest way to proceed now is with Governor Cuomo’s plan to build a new bridge with increased capacity, safer roadways, commuter bus lanes and the ability to add mass transit later,” said Rockland County Clerk Paul Piperato.
“A safer bridge – with express bus capacity and the ability add [sic] mass transit – will benefit all who live and work in Westchester and throughout the Hudson Valley,” said Westchester County Board of Legislators Chairman Ken Jenkins.
“…I support Governor Cuomo’s plan to build a new bridge that will be safer, less congested, and built to handle mass transit…” said Westchester County Board of Legislators Vice-Chair Lyndon D. Williams.
“I am in support of Governor Cuomo’s plan to build a new bridge, an investment in our region’s future that will make the crossing less congested and less hazardous, and ensure that mass transit options can be added in the coming years,” said Rockland County Legislator Christopher Carey.
“It would be a mistake to spend billions on an outdated crossing that will never offer what the new bridge will – less congestion, safer road conditions and the ability to add mass transit in future years,” said Westchester County Legislator Catherine Borgia.
“…I am supporting Governor Cuomo’s plan to build a new bridge with commuter bus lanes from opening day as well as the ability to add mass transit options in the future,” said Westchester County Legislator Michael Kaplowitz.
“The new bridge will be safer and less congested, and will allow us to expand our regional mass transit network in the coming years,” said Westchester County Legislator William Ryan.
“…the bridge will be built to accommodate whatever mass transit options we pursue in the future,” said Rockland County Legislator Ilan Schoenberger.
“Governor Cuomo’s plan to replace the Tappan Zee with a bridge that is wider, safer and built to handle mass transit is a long-term solution that will serve the region’s transportation needs for generations,” said Westchester County Legislator Mary Jane Shimsky.
“Our best bet now is to build a new bridge that will be wider and safer, and will allow for expansion of our mass transit network in whatever way our communities decide,” said Westchester County Legislator Bernice Spreckman.
There is also the statement of Governor Cuomo himself:
“The right option is clear: we need a new bridge that is safer and transit-ready, will ease congestion, and spur job creation in the community.”
According to the New York State Department of Transportation’s own documents, “New Transit is [the] only way to relieve congestion and improve mobility in the [I-287] corridor.” So there you have it. The bridge will be transit-ready and the region is ready for transit. With a toll hike looming, it can’t come soon enough.