Archive for the ‘Governor Andrew Cuomo’ Category

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

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

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

Good News for Westchester and Rockland Residents: Minimal Toll Raises on New Bridge

Commuters and residents see the bridge as the most convenient way to get across the river; the Thruway Authority views it as part of a bigger revenue picture. Yet its members heard Westchester and Rockland residents explain how toll increases would impact them “loud and clear,” Executive Director Matthew J. Driscoll said at the agency’s Board of Directors meeting December 19.

As tolls have not increased since 2010 and were frozen through 2020, the $.50 annual increase during the next two years for New York E-ZPass® drivers brings a sigh a relief: costs will only rise from $4.75 to $5.25 in 2021 and to $5.75 in 2022. The Board proposed a 40 percent discount to commuters at the New York E-ZPass® rate and a new program for Westchester and Rockland residents with no toll increases through 2022 for those who qualify.

Citing speculation about soaring toll hikes on the new bridge, Thruway Authority Chief Financial Officer Matthew A. Howard revealed the numbers and said the policy is “very consistent” with what other states have done with cashless tolling and will apply throughout the 570-mile Thruway system.

Those without E-ZPass® (who pay by mail) will see a 30 percent increase from the current $5 or $6.83 in 2021 and $7.48 in 2022 and will have an added $2 surcharge. “The key to all of this is get E-ZPass®, and your tolls outside of the bridge will be unchanged,” Howard reminded.

He emphasized, “It’s really important to note that under the plan, 45 percent of the traffic on the bridge will be receiving a commuter, a resident or a new resident discount in 2022, paying $5.75 or less. When you incorporate the discounts that are standard New York E-ZPass® rate customers receive, basically 74 percent of the traffic on the bridge in 2022 will be paying at a rate that’s $5.75 or less.”

Even without E-ZPass®, it’s not a double-digit fare and nowhere near the once-suggested $14.

After a public comment session about the proposed changes, recommendations will be made to the Board. Charts courtesy of the New York State Thruway Authority.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2019

Low Turnout at Toll Advisory Panel Meetings

Thinking I’d be unable to drive due to the ace bandage on my right wrist and hand I emailed my comments to the Toll Advisory Panel instead of going to the meeting in Tarrytown last night.

The hand surgery didn’t happen by quirk and by fate so I spent the past week meeting staff and getting to know residents at the nursing home where mom is temporarily staying. Things worked out well in that respect.

Surgery was rescheduled. About the toll meetings . . .

Why did the panel hear comments only one night in each county? Why wasn’t there a public comment period open for one month or three months or six months? It’s mid-July and sweltering outside; that plus a horrific rainstorm may have contributed to the low turnout last night and (although it didn’t rain as heavily) tonight.

Less than 100 people addressed the panel; how many others submitted written comments? Will those comments be made public? The governor’s task force and his comments nearly five years ago never came to fruition; let’s see what happens next.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2019

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