Town and village officials from the Town of Oyster Bay encouraged residents on Monday night to fight back against a proposed tunnel across the Long Island Sound.
Hundreds gathered for the meeting at Jericho High School sponsored by an anti-tunnel committee headed by Bayville Village Trustee John Taylor. This was the third meeting held on the subject — the first two were in Bayville and Locust Valley — with a fourth scheduled for Syosset on June 14 as officials look to drum up support against a Sound crossing.
“From tunneling under thousands of homes to an influx of visitors flooding our beaches and roads, this project will devastate our suburban quality of life,” Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino told the audience.
The idea of a Sound crossing, whether by tunnel, bridge or a combination of the two, has been proposed multiple times since the late 1930s. Opposition to the concept has been escalating since January when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo touted the idea of a Sound tunnel in his State of the State speech.
Cuomo’s mention coincided with the release of a $5 million state-commissioned study from a Montreal consulting firm. The study found that a Sound crossing is viable only from Oyster Bay Town to Westchester County, or from Kings Park to Connecticut.
A cross-Sound tunnel would cost between $31.5 billion and $55.4 billion, according to the study. But, the study said, the crossing would spur “new opportunities for economic growth in the region.”
The report also said a crossing would reduce road congestion and improve air quality.
Contrary to the study, residents in both Long Island communities have said a Sound crossing would add congestion to local roads and harm the environment.
The state Department of Transportation has said no decisions have been made as to where the crossing will start or end. In speeches, Cuomo has focused on a tunnel to Westchester.
At Monday night’s meeting, officials made an hourlong presentation outlining what they said will be the negative impacts of an 18-mile-long tunnel, including disruption of the aquifers and an estimated annual shortfall of $650 million to $2 billion that will fall on state taxpayers. They also used images superimposed with the possible effects of a tunnel — including 10-story-high vents — to illustrate how life may change for residents. A shot of a potential power plant to fuel soil-boring machines off the Seaford-Oyster Bay Expressway drew gasps from the audience.
Taylor encouraged residents to write Cuomo and use social media to voice their opposition to a tunnel.
“There’s hundreds of us here but we need thousands,” he said. “You’re all going to be evangelists to spread the word and convince people who like this idea to say it’s a bad idea.”