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Mario Cuomo Bridge

No Trains, Buses, Or Bikes? No Bridge!

by Jen White

After nine years of meetings, hearings and research, Governor Cuomo’s request to have the reconstruction of the Tappan Zee Bridge fast tracked was approved last week.  The members of the public and the local officials who participated in years of meetings were shocked that the final plan dismissed the need for public transportation that they expressed.

On Thursday, October 27th, the Federal Transportation Authority will present their plan for the reconstruction of the Tappan-Zee Bridge in the Adler room at the Palisades Mall.  The meeting is from 4:00pm until 9:00pm.  I will be there to express my opposition to a construction scope that has inadequate public transportation, has rejected years of public comment and jeopardizes our waterfront.  I urge you to join me.

The plan that has been released by the Federal government is a betrayal to the spirit of public comment and participatory democracy.   If we fail to show up in large numbers, we are surrendering our ability to shape the final stages of this project.  Even more alarming, our failure to turn out for this hearing will send the message that it’s acceptable for the State and Federal government to ignore us.   If we fail to boldly assert our interests at this critical moment, we are placing the fate of our village into the hands of others.

Together with my neighbors, I will oppose any plan to does not contain adequate mass transit and pedestrian and bike crossings.  The increased traffic from a new bridge with more lanes and no mass transit will lower our property values and decrease the quality of our air.  The budget figures for the proposed bridge make it clear that this project fails to include an adequate mass transit plan.

The recently released scoping document mentions the creation of a bike path, and the provision of elements that could be used in the future to provide for mass transit.   These vague and tentative promises are unacceptable.  Given the history of this project, we should take nothing for granted.

We must inject the critical need for alternatives to private vehicular traffic at every juncture of this debate.  If we fight hard enough, we can expand the public transportation alternatives in a project that could not be constructed without public dollars.

I will also fight to block a construction plan that fails to protect our river and our shore line. Any new construction must leave our waterfront and our river in better shape than it is now.

We must be honest with ourselves as we gear up for this battle.  There are powerful forces that will quickly dismiss our demands unless we are united.  Other large stakeholders to this major construction project will literally count how many residents show up to meetings.  We must be well represented in number and united in our position or our opposition will be meaningless.

Please join me and the other members of our village government on the 27th at the Palisades Center.  If you need transportation, you can reach me at (914) 282-3068 to arrange a ride.  If you are driving to the meeting, make sure you encourage some of your neighbors to share the ride.  If you can’t attend, share your views about the project: write to the media and our state and federal elected officials, blog, tweet, speak up and get involved.

I believe that Nyack is uniquely situated to survive this current recession and build a brighter future.  We have wonderful people and businesses, compelling historic and cultural destinations and natural beauty that can bring security and prosperity to our village.  But all that is imperiled if this bridge construction runs amok.

I will fight to make this a beneficial development for the village.  If it becomes clear that this plan will hurt us, I will do everything within my power to stop this project.   However, unless we mobilize as a village, we will have zero leverage.  More than ever before, we must unite to protect our community.  If this plan does not meet our interests, we must speak in one voice and say, thanks but no thanks for a bridge without a viable transportation alternative:  No trains, no buses, no bikes? No bridge!

Jen White is Deputy Mayor of Nyack and the Democratic candidate for mayor in the November 8 General Election.

See also:

Photo Credit: Tappan Zee Hudson River Crossing Scoping Information Packet, Oct 2011

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