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Long Island Sound bridge a bad idea, officials say

New York State Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosett), seen

New York State Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosett), seen in a photo taken on Tuesday, July 8, 2014, was among the officials denouncing Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's plan to study building a bridge or tunnel across the Long Island Sound. Credit: James Escher

State, county, town and village officials from throughout the town of Oyster Bay on Friday denounced Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to study whether to build a bridge or tunnel across Long Island Sound.

Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset) said constructing a bridge from Oyster Bay to the mainland would destroy thousands of homes and businesses, spill more traffic onto Long Island roads, and endanger Oyster Bay National Wildlife Refuge, whose waters sparkled in the background as Marcellino spoke.

“We don’t need a bridge to nowhere that will foul up Long Island Sound for generations,” Marcellino said during a news conference at Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park in Oyster Bay as a bevy of environmental and civic activists and current and former GOP and Democratic elected officials surrounded him.

Boring a tunnel also would lead to the demolition of many homes and businesses and increased congestion, the senator said later.

The new state budget includes $5 million to study the feasability of a bridge or tunnel. On Tuesday, Cuomo touted the idea of a bridge to Westchester County or the Bronx in an Albany speech, saying it would save drivers hours of time slogging through New York City traffic.

Beth DeFalco, a spokeswoman for the governor, said in a statement that the study would weigh “the challenges and benefits of the project. The only way to make informed decisions is to have all the facts, which the study will provide.”

But former Democratic Congressman Lester Wolff, 97, who fought the bridge proposal when he represented Long Island’s 3rd and later 6th districts from 1965 to 1981, said numerous studies on the idea already have been conducted.

“How many more studies do they need?” Wolff asked.

Lee Koppelman, a former Suffolk County planning director and Stony Brook University political-science professor, said by phone that the idea of a bridge from Long Island to the north is repeatedly resurrected because “you look at the map and say, ‘Gee whiz, we’re going to put a bridge here.’ As soon as anyone looks at it seriously, they see all the problems with it.”

But Kevin Law, president and CEO of the Long Island Association, the region’s largest business organization, said a bridge or tunnel to the New York or Connecticut mainland would stimulate the island’s economy and create jobs, attracting businesses turned off by the time and expense of getting products to and from the area.

Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto said any potential economic effects must be balanced with how a bridge or tunnel would harm town residents.

“What price do you put on quality of life and the impact a project of this magnitude would have?” he asked.

The money to fund the bridge study was in the budget that bridge opponents such as Marcellino voted for. Marcellino said legislators couldn’t remove the money from the larger governor’s discretionary fund that it was part of.

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