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Mario Cuomo Bridge

The Concerned Citizen, April 2008

CONCERNED CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBLE DEVELOPMENT is a group which opposes building a new Tappan Zee Bridge.

To paraphrase an old saying, those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat their mistakes in the future.

When the lower level of the George Washington Bridge was built, it was intended for rail which never materialized. Instead, it became a conduit for an enormous increase in car and truck traffic. Could this happen to the Tappan Zee Bridge?

We expressed fears almost 8 years ago that this scenario was a possibility. We felt that the N.Y. State Thruway Authority could build a larger bridge financed by bonds and/or increased tolls. However, ridership projections then, did not rise to a level where needed federal dollars for rail transit would be available because of competition from other higher profile projects. Our great concern was that we could end up with a larger bridge with additional lanes that would be used for autos and trucks.

Up to now, the transportation and the construction components of this project were linked, thus providing some assurance that there would be a transit commitment on a larger bridge. Now with these two elements of the TZ project separated, the Department of Transportation has positioned itself to repeat the G.W. Bridge story.

In addition, we continuously asked during this period; where was the money coming from? There was no answer then and there is no answer today. The problem of money now is more critical than ever as the State and the Federal governments are financially strapped. The chief financial officer of N.Y., Thomas DiNapoli, has said that he doesn’t feel that the State can afford to build a new bridge. He has indicated that our debt is too high, and it is compounded by declining revenues. The funds are simply not there.

The same can be said of the Federal government. The value of the dollar is declining; our deficit is growing exponentially as we borrow for the war and interest on these loans continues to escalate. Because of these economic realities, it is highly unlikely that we will get much help from the Feds. Even if there were dollars available, they most likely will go to transportation projects where ridership projections exceed those of this corridor, i.e. the Second Avenue subway and the L.I.R.R. connection to Manhattan’s east side. We have written about these issues for years. These arguments may sound repetitious but they deserve to be repeated, until those responsible for making the final decisions start addressing them realistically.

Another critical area is our air quality and the effect that it has on our lives. Our region has been out of compliance with clean air standards for years, and it would behoove us to examine the impact that it has had on our health.

Studies conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency show that particulate matter, air pollution, increased levels of ozone which has proven to be a consistent predictor of increased death rates and respiratory distress. More than three-quarters of the ozone pollution that we breathe comes from the tailpipes of cars and trucks. Are we adequately dealing with this acknowledged contributor to lung disease, the number three killer in the U.S.? Our children, the elderly, and those individuals who suffer from asthma and chronic heart and respiratory disorders are the most vulnerable. Asthma has quickly become the most prevalent chronic disorder affecting children under 17 years of age. How is our state government dealing with this problem? Where is the public information that we need to protect our health, and how do they plan to mitigate a potential (if not existing) health crisis before our area suffers the same fate as the South Bronx? These critical health-related questions are simply not being adequately addressed. Instead, we are on a path to increased auto and truck traffic via a substantially larger bridge and a wider highway.

No consideration has been given to alleviate traffic flow in the TZ area by building another bridge or expanding the existing bridges north of Rockland where the major growth is expected. Current plans call for all anticipated, additional auto and truck traffic to be sent through this overburdened, overdeveloped and overpolluted area. Even tunnels that could provide our best opportunity to control air pollution, have been removed from consideration for questionable reasons.

Where oh where has rational and regional thinking gone? And where is the outrage from Rockland and Westchester counties? We should be flooding the Department of Transportation, our county officials and our congressional representatives with letters, e-mails and faxes, demanding answers to these questions. To contact the D.O.T.:
Michael Anderson, Project Director
660 White Plains Road, Tarrytown, NY 10591
Fax:914-358-0621 E-mail:
George Sherman, President, Rockland Branch,
Sherwood Chorost, President, Westchester Branch

“Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

Nyack People & Places, a weekly series that features photos and profiles of citizens and scenes near Nyack, NY, is sponsored by Sun River Health.

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