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LI Sound bridge or tunnel: An idea that spans decades

Google Earth image showing Long Island Sound.

Google Earth image showing Long Island Sound. Governor Cuomo is proposing a $5 million feasibility study into building a traffic tunnel under Long Island Sound. Jan. 4, 2016. Credit: Google Earth

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo wants to spend $5 million on a feasibility study for a tunnel linking Long Island to the Bronx, Connecticut or Westchester County. It’s the latest development for an idea with a history spanning nearly eight decades.

Most recently, the Suffolk County Master Plan adopted in August called for exploring a bridge or tunnel across the Long Island Sound to Connecticut or Westchester.

Aides to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone called the proposal “step one of about 5 million.”

Officials and others have been trying to build a tunnel or bridge across Long Island Sound for decades. Here are some of them:

  • Vincent Polimeni, a Centre Island resident and commercial developer who died in 2013, had a vision for a privately funded road and rail tunnel linking Long Island to Westchester County.

His proposal more than a decade ago called for spending $13 billion to connect Oyster Bay to Rye with a 16-mile tunnel financed by a $25 user fee for a one-way car trip.

The proposal stalled in 2009 for lack of support in Albany.

  • “Master builder” Robert Moses proposed an 8.5-mile bridge from Bayville to Rye, but his plan fell through in 1973 when state officials realized the route had been blocked by creation of the Oyster Bay Wildlife Refuge under the auspices of the U.S. Department of the Interior.
  • Other bridges to Westchester, Connecticut or even Rhode Island were proposed for Orient Point, the Shoreham nuclear plant site, the end of the William Floyd Parkway, Port Jefferson, Sunken Meadow State Park, Caumsett State Park, Glen Cove and Sands Point.
  • The earliest proposal to span the Sound was floated in 1938 when the Commerce Committee of the U.S. Senate discussed the construction an 18-mile bridge from Orient Point across Plum, Gull and Fishers islands and on to either Groton, Connecticut, or Watch Hill, Rhode Island.

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