Archive for April, 2013|Monthly archive page

How To Get There From Here

The morning couldn’t have been more perfect for a drive in the country — cool temps outside, clear sky, and a gorgeous view as I crossed the Tappan Zee Bridge. I switched lanes because the car wheels were thumping over the seams; not for much longer. Caroline Corley’s show was on 107.1 The Peak, and the music suited my mood.

Would that I could have driven past Exit 14B and further into the mountains. Dutifully, I turned off the New York State Thruway and onto Airmont Road, where my cousins live, and made then another turn to Executive Boulevard. It was the fifth meeting of the Mass Transit Task Force, and I was driving with The Peak. It was all good.

I walked in wondering, What is the budget for transit? If I want to buy something, I start with a dollar amount in mind and try to find something within that amount.  Or do I use my credit card, and then worry about how to pay for my purchase?

“It’s best to talk about financing options, rather than talk about transit objectives and back into a discussion about finance,” task force co-chair and New York State Thruway executive director Thomas Madison said at the onset.

The group was briefed on state and federal transit funding means, and talked about current transit funding in Westchester and Rockland Counties. If I was on the task force, what would I say or do?

It would depend upon the group I represented — do I want a light rail system in the corridor? How about a personal rapid transit system (like The Sky Loop Committee [SLC], which I discovered while looking for something akin to the George Jetson mode of transport)?

Per Skyloop.org: “We seek to implement an effective and advanced elevated transit system to link together the downtown and riverfront areas of Cincinnati, Ohio, Covington and Newport, Kentucky. The Sky Loop will greatly enhance this central urban venue and will help propel our metropolitan region forward into the 21st Century.”

One option was a ferry. Metropolitan Transportation Authority director of special project development and planning William Wheeler said the idea of a ferry “is not as easy as it sounds.”

It has to be subsidized and needs riders, Wheeler said.

I might try it. What if commuters decided (after a certain number of trips) that they’d rather take a bus? Is the river predictable? Can a ferry handle the volume of commuters? Would it save time for its passengers?

Everything begins with an idea. “If you think it’s the right plan, plow ahead,” Wheeler said. “There’s no guarantee you’ll get the funding you need or not.”

There’s also a chance the group will.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2013

The Water Talks Back, Sometimes Loudly

"Figure Sitting at RiverWalk Park"/© Janie Rosman 2013

“Figure Sitting at RiverWalk Park”/© Janie Rosman 2013

There’s something calming and magical about the water. Years ago – so many years it’s not even funny, however I’ll guess 35 – friends and I would get up at the crack of dawn (whatever that means) and drive to Jones Beach. It was free to park, and we’d stay until the sun was directly overhead. Then we’d shower in our suits and drive home, happily burning as our tans settled into our skin.

We discovered Sherwood Island, and until Connecticut told us not to, we’d drive north and get our rays there. I love the water and the ocean, yet I’ve not been indulging because I’m not supposed to sit in the sun. When I did face the sky, I wore a large tee shirt over my suit and used the highest SPF lotion I could find to avoid a burn. Nothing like a tan line mid-arm to ruin a nice tee shirt-and-jeans outfit.

I remember many Fourths of July watching firecracker shows on the riverfront, and picnicking with an aquatic backdrop. Today the river was choppy and talked back noisily after the wind both instigated the waves, and then blew a strong accompaniment. I took this picture at RiverWalk Park in Tarrytown and love the contrast of a solitary figure with the vast river and immense span, which appears to be enclosed by the tree (had it been three-dimensional).

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2013

TZ Bridge Project Presented as Positive for Businesses

Calvin and HobbesGovernor Andrew Cuomo’s office held two meetings last month in partnership with the Business Council of Westchester and Rockland Business Association regarding the $5.2 billion Tappan Zee Hudson River Crossing Project.

“This is the start of the process,” said Brian Conybeare, former News 12 anchor appointed by Cuomo days earlier to be special advisor for the Tappan Zee Bridge. The project, earmarked by Governor George E. Pataki more than one decade earlier, would create 45,000 new jobs.

After 10 years, more than 430 public meetings and nearly $1 billion spent in repairs, the bridge will become a reality. The burning question is, Why not just refurbish the current structure?

Conybeare explained the bridge would still be without pedestrian walkways and shoulders, and would have the same amount of problems and pitfalls. “To rehab it would cost the state $3 to $4 billion during the next 20 years,” he said. “The state spent $750 million so far. (It’s time to) stop throwing good money into bad.”

Presenters included Larry Schwartz, secretary to the Governor, Thruway Executive Director Thomas J. Madison, Mark Roche, principal at ARUP engineering; and Robert Conway, Senior Vice President, AKRF Environmental, Planning and Engineering Consultants.

Madison explained the new bridge will be transit ready, safer and more efficient with improved toll collection, EZ-Pass® lanes, sensors, real-time weather and traffic. It will have dedicated lanes for emergencies and pedestrians, wider shoulders, and bus rapid transit when costs permit.

“In late 2011, Governor Cuomo said this (spending money for the old bridge) has to stop,” Schwartz said. Stressing the state’s historic step — the same firm will design and build the new bridge — Schwartz said, “The burden will be on the bidder if there is cost overrun.”

Roche explained that bus rapid transit “is like a train with rubber tires” and requires its own dedicated lanes. “When you get on a train, you expect to arrive at your destination at a certain time; that’s the reliability of a train. Bus rapid transit needs dedicated lanes, with nothing in the way.”

Conway said public hearings drew 1,100, and there were 3,000 public comments about the Environmental Impact Statement. “A record number,” he said, adding the 45-day comment period was extended to 60 days. The state was to have published the FEIS at the end of July.

Two public information meetings were to be held July 25 at SUNY Purchase, and July 26 at SUNY Rockland Community College. Proposals from the four competing design and build teams were due July 27. Schwartz reiterated Madison and said the project will be as transparent as possible.

The previous week, Schwartz and Madison met with six Rockland County homeowners in South Nyack and visited the Quay Condominium in Tarrytown.

“I felt encouraged by their honesty,” said Board of Managers President Alice Goldberg, after speaking with Schwartz, Madison and Aimee Vargas, Empire State Development Corp. Mid-Hudson Regional Director. “They came and listened and seemed to understand, and this in itself is very important to us.”

Instead of meeting officials at the Quay clubhouse, Goldberg said she invited them into her home “so they could experience it here.”

Madison agreed it was a productive meeting. “We met with several neighbors and sat in her kitchen talking,” he said prior to the Business Council presentation. “We’ll be having more of these community meetings with residents to keep them informed.”

A toll-free hotline, 1-855-TZBRIDGE, and website, http://www.newnybridge.com/, will provide up-to-date information. Schwartz said the caller can leave a message and will receive a reply within 24 hours.

“We’re doing everything we can to minimize the effects of this project,” Schwartz said, indicating his visits to homeowners in South Nyack and Tarrytown. “We’re going to exhaustive efforts to make sure all questions are answered, and are sensitive to those (living) in the area.”

My article originally appeared in The Hudson Independent August 2012.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2013

Tappan Zee Hudson River Crossing Project

Courtesy of New NY Bridge

Courtesy of New NY Bridge

Here is the winning design chosen from three prospects after an arduous process. Did you know the Tappan Zee Bridge is really named the Governor Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge? There’s a green sign with white letters posted on the guard rail of the northbound lanes (please don’t take your eyes off the road to read it). Now you know and can impress your friends during your next game of Jeopardy. Wait, is that one of the questions?

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2013

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