A few months back, the Voice reported on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s inability to take no for an answer from the federal government for his ambitions to build a new Tappan Zee bridge just north of New York City. The plan came with a price tag of $5.2 billion (and it still costs that much) but the Obama administration refused to take on $2 billion of that share. Nonetheless, Cuomo was furious.
In an effort to raise the prospects of receiving federal funds, his administration projected a toll hike of $9 to the bridge in anticipation of opening this new Tappan Zee as early as 2017. This would bring the price of crossing the bridge up to $14; a toll that many New Yorkers were not happy with, as demonstrated by Cuomo’s immediate move to oppose his own administration’s $9 hike soon after.
With payment plans in shambles, it seems as if the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council is ignoring the drama and steamrolling the plan ahead – a vote on the Bridge has been called for this upcoming Monday. Except the vote was announced yesterday… and environmentalist as well as citizen working groups are pissed.
According to CBS Local, the environmentalist group Riverkeeper – a group dedicated to preserving the maritime business and purity of the Hudson – is up in arms over the sudden notice. A spokesman for the group, Paul Gallay, told the news organization’s radio station that “the people who are going to be paying for this bridge have a right to know what it’s going to cost and what the plan is for paying for it, how much their tolls are going to go up.”
But the vote is only really being held to get the Obama administration’s attention again: if the three officials on the Council who have veto power vote unanimously for the project, it willqualify it for federal funding. However, that still doesn’t mean telling the nearby citizens three days in advance is justifiable.
As of now, chances for the Bridge plan to pass are looking pretty good: Cuomo picked up endorsements from ex-Governor George Pataki and other vital county executives, all of whom agree with him that the plan needs to pass ASAP so the State can hit the ground running with jobs. Also, the business lobby is one hundred percent behind it, mostly for the same development reasons; this support has been capsulated in the website, www.newnybridge.com.
And this is exactly what the Governor wants: an ambitious project like this would be another tally for him under his ‘Achievements for New York’ list.
We shall wait and see what the Council decides on Monday… and if there will be more bureaucratic-populist drama.