Guest Blog: Residents Needn’t Pay for Government Failures

By Congressional Candidate Chris Day

The new Tappan Zee Bridge is, by all accounts, a needed project. The current one is past its lifespan, was never designed to handle the substantial truck traffic it now sees, can barely accommodate rush hour traffic, and has no mass transportation options.

Courtesy of Maritime Construction Depot

Courtesy of Maritime Construction Depot

Fortunately, many years after it should have been done, action was finally taken to begin construction on the new bridge. That, unfortunately, is the only good news thus far.

This regional asset, one of if not the single biggest American infrastructure projects of the last 25 years, was left to local taxpayers to fund. Billions of dollars to create a bridge to handle the interstate traffic headed between New England and the Mid-Atlantic region, and all the Federal government could manage was a loan for its construction – a loan that must be repaid by New Yorkers. This is the same Federal government, mind you, that bankrolled a Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska to the tune of several hundred million dollars.

This failure by the Federal government, and our Congresswoman, who brags about the loan yet voted for the Bridge to Nowhere, to secure funding has left New York State scrambling and Rockland and Westchester residents and commuters suffering.

There is no money now for mass transportation across the bridge – not Bus Rapid Transit, not train, nothing. So much for building an infrastructure on which economic growth can take place, I suppose.

Beyond that failure, we now face tolls potentially as high as $15 – three times their current rate. That means thousands of dollars out of the pockets of local commuters, increased costs for local businesses, and a strong disincentive for folks to travel between the two counties or for new residents to move to Rockland.

We need action now to fix this problem before potential tolls become actual tolls. Albany must immediately cap the toll for Rockland and Westchester residents at its current level – something they have already done for Staten Island residents on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, so it is not some hypothetical pipe dream.

Second, we need help from Congress to where they failed to help before – grant money towards public transportation across the new bridge. By filling that gap in service, it will at least partially make up for their utter inability to bring funding initially.

We need effective representation that will stand up and assert the regional importance of this bridge. As a commuter myself, I know the costs of commuting and the massive impact on a household budget that this toll increase would bring – and I know that Rockland County in particular needs more options for commuters.

Rockland and Westchester residents should not have to pay for Washington and Albany’s failures – for our Congresswoman’s failures. It’s up to you to make that point to your representatives now and this November.

New City resident Chris Day, son of Rockland County Executive Ed Day, is a candidate for the 17th Congressional District (www.voteforday.com)

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2014

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