PIERMONT — A short time after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed a letter to the federal government on Monday requesting federal help in building a new Tappan Zee Bridge, a shop owner asked me if I heard what the governor had said.
“When are they going to start?” he asked, just blocks away from all the pomp and the podium where one official after another touted moving forward with a new crossing. “We need a new bridge.”
That eager sentiment pretty much summed up Monday’s event along Rockland County’s waterfront, where Cuomo was joined by dozens of public officials — Republicans and Democrats — from both sides of the Hudson River for a ceremonial signing of a letter to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Raymond LaHood.
“This is a project that has been discussed for over 13 years now and enough is enough,” Cuomo told reporters after the formal ceremony. “At some point you have to stop talking and \[stop\] consulting and actually get something done. We’re at that point with this bridge. ... It’s time to get something done.”
The event kick-started the state’s application for a federal loan to help cover some of the projected cost estimated at $5.2 billion.
But critics, notably the environmental group Riverkeeper, said the event was little more than a “political rally.” The watchdog group’s primary concern, now that the massive project got a needed endorsement earlier Monday from the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council, is that the public be heard, said Riverkeeper president Paul Galley. He say too little is known on tolls or how this bridge is going to be paid for.
While you can certainly agree that more information is needed on the finances and potential toll increases, the Cuomo administration has done a pretty good job at holding public meetings and addressing individual concerns.
But with so much time between a possible groundbreaking later this year and the 2017 goal for completion, more problems are sure to come up.
So now beyond selling the bridge, the hard work begins — building it.
Pictured above: Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference in Piermont before signing a letter asking the federal government for $2 billion dollars for a new Tappan Zee bridge. (Aug. 20, 2012)