Time and time again, Tappan Zee Bridge replacement boosters—including Tri-State—have emphasized the importance of the project in creating jobs. Any infrastructure initiative of this size will help construction workers’ families make ends meet, so long as construction continues.
But not all transportation infrastructure investments are equal. According to a 2011 Smart Growth America report, “investments in public transportation generate 31% more jobs per dollar than new construction of roads and bridges.” Public transportation jobs also stick around, long after the construction is over. Under the current bridge replacement plan, which does not include a firm enough commitment to transit in the I-287 corridor, the Tappan Zee’s anticipated 2017 ribbon cutting would also be the end of the line for tens of thousands of workers. Adding transit to the corridor would provide well-paying jobs that could sustain Lower Hudson Valley families into the next century.
Recognizing this, the Amalgamated Transit Union (190,000 members strong), has sent a letter noting the huge employment benefits that would come with a state commitment to a robust east-west transit system in Rockland and Westchester counties [pdf]. In the letter, Larry Hanley, the president of the nation’s largest transit workers’ union, described how a bus rapid transit line in the area would lead to “transit operation, maintenance, and manufacturing” jobs that “go beyond the life of bridge construction and are spread throughout the state.” With upstate transit component suppliers shutting down due to inadequate investment in public transportation, adding BRT to the project would not only encourage economic growth in the Lower Hudson Valley, but help workers across the state as well.
In the coming weeks, Governor Cuomo is expected to announce the members of the long-delayed Regional Transit Task Force, which will provide recommendations for public transit in the Lower Hudson Valley within the year. If the state is serious about fueling economic recovery it must commit to implementing the recommendations quickly.