Technical Curiosity vs. Bicycle Path Anticipation

They’re curious, energetic, and eager to learn — and some of them aspire to be engineers. How better to show Westchester Community College students where their careers can soar than by inviting the state’s biggest project to their school?

Special project advisor Brian Conybeare talks about the cable-stayed bridge's shared use path/NNYB Outreach

Special project advisor Brian Conybeare talks about the cable-stayed bridge’s shared use path/NNYB Outreach

“We were a generic group, college freshman who live in the county,” Success Team advisor Lori Murphy explained. “They (students) lie in the county, and the bridge will impact them.”

The six-year-old group “exposes students to new ideas, careers, and experiences on and off-campus,” Murphy said. “It’s about service to the community and service to the school, which was bringing project officials to WCC.”

“The New NY Bridge is a once in a lifetime project and we want it to inspire local students at all levels from graduate school and college down to elementary classrooms. The goal of our educational outreach effort at all levels is to use this historic infrastructure project to inspire the next generation of bridge builders here in New York.” — Brian Conybeare, Special Project Advisor to Governor Andrew Cuomo

 Murphy, who lives on Long Island and hadn’t seen the bridge’s progress, was pleased with the presentation and its attendance.

Special project advisor Brian Conybeare learned about WCC students' varied interest in the new bridge/NNYB Outreach

Special project advisor Brian Conybeare learned about WCC students’ varied interest in the new bridge/NNYB Outreach

“I was a little unsure who would come since it was during common hour (Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.), when there were no classes,” Murphy said. “Brian and (Public Outreach Administrator) Andy (O’Rourke) were willing to come even if they had five students.”

Success Team member Luis Blanco felt the presentation was very well designed. “It was interesting that, apart from being a really impressive engineering project when finished, the bridge effort is also trying to help the local community while it’s being constructed.”

Engineering Club advisor Kary Ioannou, P .E., said his students were very interested in the project, especially since “they’re trying to figure out where they’ll work when they graduate.”

While they were excited to learn about the nuts and bolts, the nitty-gritty of how the bridge will be built, Murphy said, “My students wanted to know about the path, that they could bicycle across the new bridge, and the viewing platforms.”

Courtesy New York State Thruway Authority

Courtesy New York State Thruway Authority

Ioannou’s involvement with the bridge project goes back to his days as Greenburgh Town Engineer. “I’m excited about it, too, and what they’re doing, and about their approach.”

His prior work in the private sector introduced Iaonnou to design-build. “It’s great to see the bridge being built, and jobs being created. My students were looking at jobs that are available and are positive about finding work.”

WCC’s two engineering programs — engineering science, from which students transfer to a four-year degree program, and engineering technology (covering civil, mechanical, and electrical), a two-year curriculum that prepares them for work — enroll part and full-time students.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2014

No Meeting Plans Yet w/South Nyack Residents

Three weeks until Daylight Saving Time ends, and we move the clock back one hour. Three months until year three begins for Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC (TZC). The countdown began on January 18, 2013. And 13 days until Halloween.

awesome sky

I missed this awesome sky yesterday, captured by the EarthCam® construction camera (7:15 a.m.) in Upper Grandview. Time for me to start checking it again.

While last month brought super crane watch, October signifies time marked by something not happening. Weeks ago, I wrote about a second family in South Nyack selling its home after the state changed its mind about including six homes in the bridge project’s eminent domain.

I told you it’s game on — waiting game, that is. South Nyack residents want to know what will happen, and when. I’m waiting, too. No date yet, I was told.

awesome again

What is predictable are shortened days, and the sun’s awesome splashes of color (this, at 7:30 a.m. today) that appear slightly later each morning.

The project’s timetable is also predictable.

At 24 percent completed, and with 65 percent of the piling is in, it’s now “going vertical,” TZC president Darrell Waters said two weeks ago when Governor Cuomo was in Piermont to greet the I Lift NY. “By end of year, you will start to see main span pylons coming out of the foundations.”

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2014

Five Dollars Will Still Get You from Here to There

Although the super crane will save New York State super bucks, there are no definite toll numbers for the new bridge.

Discounts ahead for local residents, commuters?/Rani Levi

Discounts ahead for local residents, commuters?/Rani Levi

While in Rockland last week, Governor Cuomo was asked about the toll and finance task force he proposed in 2012. “We don’t know how much we will we get from the federal government, how much we will get from the state; there are state loans and grants we can access,” he replied.

Add to this built-in contract incentives for Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC (TZC) to finish the project before spring 2018 or subtract penalties for completing it later. “Once you have those numbers, then you can come up with a plan about how to do it, what commuters should pay, on-hour, off-hour, etc.,” he said.

The governor told us two years ago we’d get a discount. I’m betting it means a discount from the fares that will surely increase.

Meantime, Senator David Carlucci announced his toll relief plan for Westchester and Rockland County residents to offset that scenario earlier this week.

His initiative includes a 60 percent discount for local commuters, a personal income tax credit (proposed earlier this year) of $250 for single filers or $500 for those filing jointly, a plan (announced last summer) for nabbing chronic toll evaders, and consolidated services between the New York State Bridge Authority — which operates the Bear Mountain, Newburgh-Beacon, Mid-Hudson, Kingston-Rhinecliff, and Rip Van Winkle bridges — and the Thruway Authority, which operates the Tappan Zee Bridge.

When a customer was charged because his E-ZPass® account balance dipped too low to use the system, Carlucci helped waive the fine. E-ZPass® customers whose accounts reach zero balance have several payment options.

I’m all for his proposals and would like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2014

Visit to Tarrytown was a Trip to Yesteryear

Dominick Minotti met friends from Washington Irving High School in Tarrytown last month for their 60th reunion weekend. Amazed at the area’s transformation, they spent Saturday afternoon at the Outreach Center learning about the state’s project and reminiscing about their old neighborhood pre-Tappan Zee Bridge.

It’s a wonderful bridge, and was a terrific presentation with lots of information. I was particularly moved by photos showing the place where I lived for 10 years.

Thea Cunitz, Lee Nemlich, Herb Cunitz, Peggy Speir (in front), Jeanne Nemlich, David Johnson, Janis McLean, Andy O'Rourke (NNYB), Dominick Minotti/© Janie Rosman 2014

Thea Cunitz, Lee Nemlich, Herb Cunitz, Peggy Speir (in front), Jeanne Nemlich, David Johnson, Janis McLean, Andy O’Rourke (NNYB), Dominick Minotti/© Janie Rosman 2014

My family moved to the David Luke estate when I entered second grade; that would have been in 1943. It was bought by the Tarrytown Hospital Association with plans to build a new hospital there, using the Georgian mansion as part of it. That would have been quite spectacular. But this was not to be.

My father was hired as the resident caretaker, and we lived in what was once the servants’ quarters. The kitchen (which is the mainstay of an Italian family) was huge — measuring a good 30 by 20 feet or so, and larger than many places I have lived since! But it was great for all the relatives to gather, for my father and cronies to play cards, and for holidays.

Minotti's father, Pasquale Minotti, caretaker of the Luke estate, looking toward the river/Virtual Archives

Minotti’s father, Pasquale Minotti, caretaker of the Luke estate, looking toward the river/Virtual Archives

The mansion was wonderful. It had a huge library at the curved southern end of the building, and it had a majestic staircase that went up three stories. For a party one Halloween (I am amazed that my father actually gave me permission to do this!), we would wait at the top of the stairs and drop a skeleton down in front of each entering group.

Next to the main reception room was a music room with a pipe organ that I never got to play. Overall, it was also a scary place to live with all the empty rooms, dark basement (which I never fully explored) and far way from the street.

Garage and barn at Luke Estate/Virtual Archives

Garage and barn at Luke Estate/Virtual Archives

I was given the job of mowing the lawns — nine hours a week on a riding power mower. I could never figure out what my two older sisters, Valia and Wanda, did as their part of chores. I am sure they did a lot. The driveway circled the front lawn and was where I learned to drive in a 1935 Plymouth coupe, taught by my sister Val.

There were greenhouses on the estate, four of them attached in a row with a bowling alley alongside. My father was very strict and careful about the property and would not let us explore or use things. He reported to a Mr. King, who lived on Sunnyside Lane in Irvington and was apparently the Board member of the hospital association responsible for overseeing the estate and my father’s work.

Looking east to big house, barn/Virtual Archives

Looking east to big house, barn/Virtual Archives

My father used the greenhouses to develop a nursery business, planting seeds for starter plants that he would then sell to the neighbors and community residents. He was one of the earliest organic gardeners, not using any chemicals or commercial fertilizers for his plants in 1944 and thereafter.

One of the photos we saw on out recent visit was taken from the terrace of the mansion overlooking the river. It shows one of the bridge people talking with my father and elicited quite an emotional reaction in me.

Dominick Minotti looks at picture of the Luke Estate, where he lived in high school, before the TZB/© Janie Rosman 2014

Dominick Minotti looks at picture of the Luke Estate, where he lived in high school, before the TZB/© Janie Rosman 2014

But about the bridge itself: I was not in attendance on opening day. I think by that time I was attending Columbia University, and the family had moved to the Stearns Estate in Irvington, now the site of Irvington High School, where my father again worked as caretaker.

I remember warm spring and early summer days sitting in classrooms at WIHS listening to the pile driver. The loudness of the bridge work contrasted with the soft voice of Miss Gates, our Latin teacher, whose room was on the second floor on the river side. Cicero’s orations read out loud by us were punctuated by the thunk of the pile driver. The sounds and sights of Ancient Rome and modern technology blended in a sleepy afternoon.

Pond, upper photo, and Pasquale Minotti at Luke Estate, lower photo/Virtual Archives

Pond, upper photo, and Pasquale Minotti at Luke Estate, lower photo/Virtual Archives

The ferry: yes, it was a passenger ferry, but earlier there was a car ferry that went across the river to Piermont, I believe. I remember as a very young child going with my father on it to visit “paisani” and “parenti” (friends and family) in Nyack and Piermont. I remember standing at the front of the ferry and looking out seeing some ice floes on the river. Old-timers used to tell of the days when the river froze over completely and people could drive their cars across.

Eventually, the work was completed. I have driven over the bridge many times. Each time I pay the toll at the booth I know that I am passing through the house where I did so much of my growing up from age 6 to almost 17, a place that now seems a fantasy to me, and many memories of the Luke estate and of family that color the wonderful childhood I spent in Tarrytown and at WIHS.

Mansion at Luke Estate looking west/Virtual Archives

Mansion at Luke Estate looking west/Virtual Archives

For the record: Not only was there a major traffic accident four days after the bridge opened — four cars traveling from Rockland to Westchester at dusk bumped into each other, and caused the first backup — one driver thought the new bridge was fare-free.

“Within a day or so of opening day, the local paper reported a female driver went thru the toll booth without stopping,”  WIHS classmate Peter Hall said. When she was pulled over by police and questioned, the woman said the light was green.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2014

Update on the Viewing Area

Since no one bid on the benches this time around, Tarrytown Village Administrator Mike Blau said, the village is determining whether he needs to bid again or negotiate with one vendor.

Crane clears the Tappan Zee Bridge/© Janie Rosman 2014

Crane clears the Tappan Zee Bridge/© Janie Rosman 2014

Last Wednesday night I watched the I Lift NY crane pass under the bridge and travel to near the viewing area. I emailed Blau and told him some kids were there with a parent; one kid was sitting on the stone wall, and another was twirling the monocular around. I thought, “That’s dangerous,” and wondered if it could be tightened or have limited mobility.

I also suggested a “Do Not Sit on Wall” sign.

He said the village is also looking at whether it can install a device to stop the binoculars from going all the way around, and thanked me for telling him.

Doing my part. Safety first, both in the river and on land.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2014

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