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Mario Cuomo Bridge

Over The River and Through Our Woods

by John Shields

A new replacement Tappan Zee Bridge moves forward. Assuming such a replacement is necessary, and this is still a question, how will it affect the Rockland corridor?

The Thruway has a poor history of good will in this area. When the last current bridge was built much of South Nyack was wiped out by a huge and unnecessary interchange. This after Gov. Harriman promised no bridge through the Nyacks. A location that was totally inappropriate. It was never revealed who benefited form this location.

This time the Thruway has had numerous public meeting to take public input. What is far from clear is how much public input the Thruway Authority is taking.

A digression: In New York State authorities were created to build public projects. These authorities have the power to ride rough shod over communities to build these projects. An appointed board appointed by the governor oversees these projects. I suggest that you ‘€œGoogle’€ the law establishing authorities. It will be quite an eye opener. Authorities in New York State are accountable to no one. Will the Thruway follow the suggestion from South Nyack and cover the Thruway from the two overpasses in South Nyack and build a park on this cover? Or, will it once again decimate South Nyack neighborhoods and quality of life?

Currently the promise is that the Thruway will only use its right of way. This 25 foot right of way extends on either side. The question I have raised many times is how close will that right of way come to a resident’s door? And, how will that affect the quality of life here?

The new bridge includes plans for bus lanes and a commuter rail train. More important than increasing bridge capacity for cars and trucks, transportation officials must commit to completing these parts of the project so that we can create alternatives to gas fed private vehicles.

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The recent Gulf oil disaster should serve as a warning  about our addiction to fossil fuels and our obsession to build more and larger highways for gas guzzling cars.  A far more sane approach would be to limit highways and build for public transportation.

The question we should be asking is this: Is Orange County and the route to an airport at Stewart Air Force Base more important than the environment or the further destruction of our Rockland corridor?

John Shields is the former Mayor of Nyack, NY.




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