Gov. Andrew Cuomo, back from a fishing trip on Long Island, went on Fred Dicker’s radio program today and aggressively promoted his plan to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge.
The plan for the bridge’s replacement has been criticized by several different opposition groups, the New York Times wrote late last month, with environmental advocates worried about the dredging process intrinsic to the project, and local lawmakers insisting that a plan for mass transit be included in the $5.2 billion bridge construction.
Today, Cuomo said that mass transit would double the cost of the bridge replacement and the controversy was an impediment to progress.
“I think the Tappan Zee is a good example of a larger problem that we have that is pervasive,” he said.
“We talk about gridlock…There’s another form of gridlock, which is just the lack of capacity for government, for society through government to implement big projects. When you have a big project,you will always have opposition,” he said.
“Do you allow the opposition and the controversy to defeat the project or not? If controversy always wins, we build nothing,” he said.
UPDATED: The Tri-State Transportation Campaign mailed out a release this afternoon questioning the Cuomo administration’s cost estimates for a bus rapid transit system on the Tappan Zee. The release says the Campaign FOIL-ed for information on the projected costs.
“New York State never analyzed the price of a simple bus rapid transit (BRT) system for the new Tappan Zee Bridge and I-287 corridor, according to a preliminary Tri-State Transportation Campaign analysis of state documents. Documents obtained on June 18, 2012 in response to the Campaign’s Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request, indicate the state’s cost assumptions for BRT instead rely on projections for a more elaborate, fully built-out configuration.”
The Campaign sought the documents on the cost estimates after the state projected BRT costs between $4.5-5.2 billion in the project’s draft environmental impact statement. They were received 129 days after its Freedom of Information Law request and months after the closure of the project’s public comment period on March 30, 2012.
The outsized transit cost estimate for the current Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project appears to be based on a significantly more robust I-287 project under consideration in an old project. The costs of climbing lanes for trucks, interchange additions, tunnels, and more are comingled into the costs of implementing a BRT system, making it impossible to solely ascertain the costs of simple bus enhancements throughout the corridor. The addition of bus rapid transit—a mode renowned for its low cost and flexibility—need not involve such elaborate infrastructure upgrades to the corridor.”
Cuomo was keen to talk about the bridge on Dicker’s program, but the show host was able to squeeze in a few questions on stop and frisk, the contentious NYPD policy Mayor Michael Bloomberg says is necessary to keep the city’s crime rate low.
Dicker questioned the governor about the weekend’s crime rate in New York City, where eight people were killed over the weekend in incidents of gun violence. An editorial in the New York Post this morning tied the violence to the legislature’s lessening of penalties for drug crime and to a less aggressive stop-and-frisk policy in the wake of legal challenges to the controversial NYPD policy.
Cuomo said there was no reason to tie recent court decisions challenging stop and frisk to the weekend’s increase in gun crime.
“I saw the editorial in your paper today,” Cuomo said. “I haven’t seen any causal relationship between those court decisions and what happened recently.”
“Did you think the decisions were good ones?” Dicker asked of the stop-and-frisk cases.
“There’s no doubt it can be effective policing strategy. No doubt there’s a balance with civil liberties,” the governor said, citing his advocacy for decriminalization of certain amounts of marijuana possession.
“I disagree with your editorial,” he said. “I don’t see where they get the connection with the Rockefeller drug laws and the July 4th situation.”
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