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Study a cross-Sound bridge as well as a tunnel, LIA says

A rendering of a tunnel under Long Island

A rendering of a tunnel under Long Island Sound proposed about 10 years ago by the late developer Vincent Polimeni. It would have linked Long Island to Westchester County. Credit: Polimeni International

State leaders should consider a bridge across Long Island Sound in addition to a tunnel, the Island’s largest business group said.

The Long Island Association also wants Albany officials to weigh locations beyond Shoreham for a deep water port.

In a letter to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and members of the State Legislature, the group is urging leaders to expand the scope of proposed studies of a Sound crossing and a local port.

The group endorsed both feasibility studies, which were first outlined by Cuomo in January.

In terms of the $5 million study of a Sound tunnel, the LIA said researchers should examine “the best locations for a Cross Sound Bridge to Connecticut” as well as a tunnel from Nassau or Suffolk to Connecticut, the Bronx or Westchester County.

The researchers should “evaluate which crossing is more feasible and beneficial to our region,” the LIA said.

Cuomo only proposed looking at the potential for a tunnel.

A Sound crossing has been debated for nearly 80 years. The earliest proposal was in 1938 when a U.S. Senate committee suggested an 18-mile bridge from Orient Point across Plum, Gull and Fishers islands and on to either Groton, Connecticut, or Watch Hill, Rhode Island.

More recently, Centre Island developer Vincent Polimeni proposed a road and rail tunnel linking Long Island to Westchester County about 10 years ago. He died in 2013 but his family has continued to push the idea.

The LIA also said a separate study, costing $1 million, should look at other locations beyond Shoreham for a deep-water port.

“A new intermodal facility on Long Island for receiving imports and distributing local goods to distant markets also has the potential to remove commercial traffic from the region’s roadways, improve air quality and create jobs,” the group said. “However, it is conceivable that there may be other, more suitable locations than at Shoreham.”

Cuomo’s idea to put a port on the site of the never-opened Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant has faced criticism, including opposition from State Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) who represents the community.

Cuomo’s father, the late Gov. Mario Cuomo, first raised the idea years ago.

The LIA letter, sent last month, comes as the younger Cuomo and the legislature negotiate a new state budget for the fiscal year that begins April 1.

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