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Long Island Builders Institute says tunnel deserves consideration

One proposed Long Island Sound crossing runs from

One proposed Long Island Sound crossing runs from Oyster Bay to Westchester.  Credit: Raychel Brightman

A prominent business group said Tuesday the proposed tunnel linking Long Island to Westchester County merits a thorough examination.

The Long Island Builders Institute, which represents contractors in the home construction and remodeling industry, said the tunnel plan put forward by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo deserves serious consideration.

“Anyone who tries to get on and off Long Island fully understands that Long Island needs more highway options and a tunnel could alleviate much of our traffic issues,” Institute CEO Mitchell H. Pally said Tuesday.

The tunnel proposal, which is the subject of ongoing public hearings and studies, has sparked intense opposition in recent weeks.

Hundreds of people attended a meeting in late April in Bayville, where Mayor Paul Rupp has established an anti-tunnel committee. State Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset) and Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino have denounced Cuomo’s proposal.

Community opposition has scuttled prior bridge and tunnel proposals dating to 1938.

The builders institute said Tuesday it “wishes to express its strong support . . . to seriously examine the possibility of building a new tunnel” under Long Island Sound.

“A new connection could provide meaningful employment benefits to both sides of Long Island Sound, thus improving the economy of our entire metropolitan region,” said Pally, who also serves on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s board of directors.

The Long Island Association, the region’s largest business group, has taken a similar position.

LIA president Kevin Law said last month that Cuomo “deserves credit for thinking big and examining the costs and benefits of a bridge or tunnel, which could have significant benefits to the Long Island economy.”

A study conducted last year for the state by a Montreal consulting firm estimated a Sound tunnel would cost between $31.5 billion and $55.4 billion, depending on the location and whether there are one or two tubes.

The 87-page study also said a Sound crossing — by tunnel, bridge or a combination — is only viable from Oyster Bay Town to Westchester County, or from Kings Park in Suffolk County to Connecticut.

The study’s authors estimated between 74,300 and 86,400 vehicles would use a tunnel to Westchester per day. Together, drivers would pay more than $500 million in tolls per year, if the fee were $20 to $25 per trip.

In a January speech Cuomo mentioned only a tunnel, and in a separate announcement that month did not discuss a route to Connecticut.

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