When it comes to building a new Tappan Zee Bridge for drivers, the Cuomo administration says there’s no time to waste and only a gold-plated, super-wide span will do. But don’t ask them how they plan to pay for it, or how high tolls will be.
When it comes to building a new Tappan Zee Bridge transit system, the Cuomo administration says it needs years to meticulously craft every detail with local communities and can’t afford even relatively cheap improvements. They’re happy, however, to throw around scary numbers about how high tolls will go once you build some bus infrastructure.
It’s a brazen double standard, one crafted to make the case for a bloated highway bridge while finding a way to get to “No” on transit.
Take, for example, the administration’s attitude toward the need for public outreach on the one hand and speed on the other. “Anybody who drives over the TZB on any kind of frequency knows on a Friday night or a Sunday night or god forbid if there is an accident on the bridge, you literally could be stranded for hours,” said Secretary to the Governor Larry Schwartz at a forum held by the Journal News this morning. “It’s needed. The time is long overdue. We’ve studied the bridge to death.”
Compare that to the administration’s position on adding transit. When asked whether there was even a timetable for studying a bus rapid transit system, Schwartz responded, “We don’t have a plan yet. To have a plan would mean we’ve excluded the input of County Executive Astorino and County Executive Vanderhoef and all the other stakeholders.”
Schwartz said that to add a BRT system, the state would have to study the economic impact of transit on local businesses, the impact on quality of life for residents, and the potential for transit to create additional traffic. Mark Roche, an engineer consulting for the state, said they would have to re-do the origin and destination surveys that were used to estimate demand for transit, given the changes to the region in recent years. “You got to take your time and come up with all the answers,” said Schwartz.
State officials showed a similar double standard when it came to the cost of new infrastructure. For the highway elements of the bridge, there was no attempt to justify the price tag.