So Much Secrecy in the Bridge Project’s Cache

View from the EarthCam® construction camera in Tarrytown Dec. 16, 2014, at 9:30 a.m.

This is getting old.

Thruway Authority Records Access Officer Jill B. Warner repeated her sing-song reply to me years after the batch plant accident, when no one wanted the truth known that the second mobile concrete mini-factory was doomed to malfunction so it, too, was immediately shut down.

Sources told me the governor’s office reviewed each project-related FOIL request with a fine-tooth comb.

I’d asked for information about the oh-so-many-months-ago call for proposals from artists to create a mural and bicycle racks for the bridge that was to have opened five years and two months after the project began. Path’s still not open.

“The Thruway Authority acknowledges your correspondence dated January 13, 2020 which, pursuant to FOIL, requested,” Warner’s email said.

What is the agency hiding? It mocks the FOIL request by saying it is “performing a diligent search for records” about projects it initiated and “will notify (me) of (its) progress by February 19, 2020.”

When I got too close for comfort last time, one of its lawyers called me to try and silence me: going to any length to hide the truth. Small consolation knowing other reporters and contractors working on the bridge project were also stalled by the agency.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2020

TBT: Controlled Demolition of East Anchor Span

Crowds gathered to watch this time last year. Here it is in real time and in slow motion courtesy of Kevin P. Coughlin/State of New York. The section looks like it’s floating on the water; however, the perfect fall caused its columns to drop to the river bottom.

Demolition experts placed charges on vertical support structures along the span of the bridge. The charges were timed to detonate in a way that would safely lower the remaining structure eastward, away from the Hudson River’s main navigation channel, according to a fact sheet released by the construction project.

Fitting it happened this month: January 2013 was when the Thruway Authority issued Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC (TZC) Notice To Proceed.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2020

Status of Art Proposals for Bridge Landings is ?

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock.

Sources told me Governor Cuomo’s office reviews each project-related FOIL request with a fine-tooth comb. Yesterday I received an email saying the executive chamber doesn’t maintain records for other state agencies and isn’t the custodian of records I recently requested through the Freedom of Information Law.

Fair enough: I started at the top by mistake.

The letter containing this information was addressed Dear Janie Rosan. REALLY. How difficult is it to correctly retype a six-letter last name spelled out in front of you at the bottom of said request or to highlight and copy the name?

* * * * *

Six silent months passed since ArtsWestchester and the Thruway Authority called for proposals for a permanent mural for an underpass on Rockland County landing of the new bridge’s shared use path and bike racks for the Rockland and Westchester landings.

I want to know why and resubmitted my requests. The email receipt said they were forwarded to the agencies I selected, and the Records Access Officer for each will contact me directly for further processing within up to five business days.

Due to my previous experience sending a FOIL request to the Thruway Authority (one of those I contacted), I’m curious about its response.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2020

On My Mind: New Year, Unanswered Questions

Socks, sneakers and wheels indicate a sign of the path to come/NYS Thruway Authority

Wishing you a happy and healthy 2020!

I’ve been asking about artwork on the new bridge since silence enveloped the projects after a Request For Proposal (RFP) last summer. Deadlines for submitting those proposals, and the deadline for installing one of them, were months ago. The next installation deadline comes in the spring.

Patricia Gallagher Newberry, Society of Professional Journalists national president, said, “Censorship has stalked a horrific path through history. This is another instance. It is heartening to find another way to fight this trend toward silencing public employees, which SPJ has identified as a grave risk to public welfare.”

This situation reminded me of a call I received five years ago during my quest for information about a failed silo on one of the two floating concrete batch plants that had arrived months earlier. Why did the contractor also shut down the batch plant that didn’t mechanically fail unless it, too, would experience the same issue at a later time?

An attorney responded, and then I received a call from one of the governor’s then-special advisor not long after about “tidying up” matters. Someone wanted me to stop asking, I’m sure. It took nearly a full year for someone to tell me “the Thruway Authority doesn’t have that kind of information in its records.”

I’d sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the New York State Thruway Authority, whose public information officer stalled me. One year later I learned my hunch was correct. Back then I asked: Would it have been a matter of time before that same malfunction occurred in the second batch plant although both were prepped, inspected and tested identically?

A project source told me: yes, the second plant would have malfunctioned, which I suspect was why the agency stalled, then refused to provide the documents I sought in the request.

One year after that accident, Governor Cuomo ruled on Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). His office reviewed each project-related FOIL request with a fine-tooth comb, sources told me as the FOIL request hit snags that were more like stone walls.

Never stop asking questions.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2020

Second Outreach Center closes; New Exit 10; SUP Work continues; Toll Relief for Local Residents

What remained of the Tappan Zee Bridge lingered into 2019: its east anchor span was to be demolished, then weather intervened, and then it happened. A new configuration to Thruway Exit 10 eliminated a portion of the loop, where motorists could exit to Clinton Avenue; second and third traffic patterns for the exit were to follow.

Work continued on the westbound span’s path and connecting spur path, the old bridge’s supports were disappearing, and four Peregrine falcon chicks needed names. The west anchor span was removed, local students named the chicks, new webcams showed progress on the landings, and my mom took her first car trip across the new bridge.

Low turnout was reported at July’s toll advisory panel meetings; ArtsWestchester and the Thruway Authority asked artists to propose ideas for a mural and bicycle racks. A broken car on en route to the iconic concert 50 years ago became a “how we met” story for their children and grandchildren.

Come fall, New Yorkers chose a new state license plate (some wanted the design above, which was not one of the five choices), and further changes were made to Exit 10 yet did not relieve traffic. People noticed the I Lift NY left the project site five years after its arrival in Piermont.

A completely reconfigured Exit 10 opened in early October, one scenic overlook was completed the following month, and residents of bridge-bordering counties learned about minimal future toll increases. Although the Nyack Outreach Center closed this month, educational programs continue into spring/summer.

The path, its hours to be determined, is expected to open sometime next year.

It would have been wiser not to leave my hat on the bus: temps were freezing that day! Photo/Gov. Cuomo’s staff

I’ve covered this story since March 2012, when an editor sent me to hear residents’ concerns in Tarrytown. Plans for the project’s anticipated progress — detailed in subsequent meetings — became reality with each turn of the calendar. Freelance reporting is pure joy and sometimes challenging, and this has been both.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2019

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