Archive for the ‘Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge’ Category

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; SUP Progressing

There’s an empty space on Main Street in Nyack, where one Outreach Center had been since early 2013. If you thought they posed with a cross steel section of pile for a reason, then you were right. It was moving out day; both Centers are now part of the project’s history (Tarrytown closed last year).

I parked on Clinton Avenue to see the Esposito Trail and side path, separated by a divider and newly-planted young trees (November 15 per the tags around those I checked). A young boy was bicycling in the center of the trail while his father ran in the center of the new spur path.

Local cycling groups want the path open 24/7, claiming it’s a transportation mode to which they need uninterrupted access. Hours have not been decided.

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

Flashback Friday: Bridge Path Survey yields Different Views, Concerns for South Nyack

The walking and bicycle path is set to open within months (no date has been confirmed). Two and one-half years ago the project asked for input on the new bridge’s path; one sticky point was will it remain open 24/7, be open from dusk to dawn (that will change with the seasons) or have set hours? The debate continues as bicycling groups push for round-the-clock access to a path that will be monitored how? What about safety issues? Noise? Its side path opens into a quiet South Nyack neighborhood.

Catty-corner to the house Jessica Hans-Smolin shares with her husband, Pete Smolin, and their one-year-old, is where the Raymond G. Esposito Trail crosses Clinton Avenue. It’s also where the spur path and trail entrance for the new bridge’s path will be built.

“It’s not just about my backyard, nor many people’s yards,” Hans-Smolin said, speaking for the group Preserve South Nyack. “It’s about having a comprehensive plan with foresight to ensure safety, maintain the integrity of our residential community and respect South Nyack’s rich history.”

Citing a misconception that local residents aren’t in favor of the new bridge’s path, she clarified, “The controversy is where it ends, where it outputs, where it impacts on a trail in a community (and) mixed feelings about the additional spur path.”

Concept F—one of four plans presented to South Nyack by its Tappan Zee Bridge Task Force in December 2015—indicated a paved side path would be an advantage. Rockland County Times reported in February that PSN members voiced concern about the path throughout 2015 and 2016 and were told they’d be consulted as the timeline pertaining to the trail got closer.

The Task Force meets as needed with project officials, bringing recommendations to the board for consideration and “has a good relationship with the state and the Thruway Authority,” Mayor Bonnie Christian said. “We’re trying to do what’s best for our community while keeping the character and integrity of our village intact.”

Thanking the 2,200-plus people who participated in the project team’s recent 10-question survey, spokesman Khurram Saeed said in a statement, “Their input is enormously useful to help the team better understand how people plan to use the path as we continue to work on operational details, including way finding, hours and amenities.”

Encouraged that South Nyack resident was one of the survey’s responder options, Christian emphasized it’s a way to let the project team know a villager answered and doesn’t want the path open 24/7.

Tarrytown Mayor Drew Fixell agrees with her about curtailing path hours albeit for a different reason: he has yet to see that benefits outweigh potential negatives, while she stressed it would be unfair to — and potentially dangerous for — residents.

Trail head of walking/bicycle path and Esposito Trail/K. Wolf

“Though there may be some ‘good’ uses for it at 2 a.m., I can’t imagine the legitimate demand for it would justify the risks and potential costs,” Fixell said. “Perhaps we’ll find that there really is a lot of demand for crossing in the wee hours, but I don’t believe that keeping it open all night makes sense in advance of the demand being demonstrated.”

Metro North’s first Manhattan-bound train leaves Tarrytown at 4:45 a.m., and the last train arrives in Tarrytown from Grand Central Station at 2:43 a.m., begging the question: Will the path be available to late evening and early morning commuters?

“The idea of keeping it open only dawn to dusk (when the Esposito Trail is open) makes it unusable for anything but recreation,” Rockland Bicycling Club board member Mike Benowitz said. “The bridge is almost three miles across. Someone looking to cause trouble is not going to cross three miles.”

The New City resident takes the ferry from Haverstraw to Ossining, and, from there, bicycles to his job in White Plains. He feels closing the spur path from dusk to dawn would be better than closing the entire path overnight.

South Nyack neighbors worry about safety when the Lower Hudson Transit Link replaces the Tappan ZEExpress in fall 2018. Stops include the South Franklin Extension (within Interchange 10)—the bridge interchange—and at Artopee Way in Nyack.

“This is way too much traffic at one intersection in an exclusively residential community. We have a lot of young children here,” Hans-Smolin said, citing a recent block party where kids played freely.

Most recreational cyclists aren’t riding after dark, Benowitz said, and clubs that organize special rides will use a road and not the trail. “Large bicycle groups will avoid shared use areas,” Benowitz said. “You’re riding 15 miles an hour, and someone walking a dog turns around,” which might lead to a potential accident.

Christian and Police Chief Brent Newbury met recently with state officials to discuss the path’s safety and patrolling, Christian wrote in a July 7 update. Governor Cuomo’s office will work with Newbury and state troopers to ensure village safety concerns are satisfactorily addressed.

“It’s important to be a concerned citizen and be active as much as you possibly can,” Hans-Smolin reiterated. PSN feels if the (area around the) trail has to be developed despite its continuing efforts to save the green space, then it would like the spur path to close from dusk to dawn, and have path users be directed to exit at the Interchange 10 parking lot.

My article originally appeared in the Rockland County Times July 13, 2017.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2019

Overlook Update; Route 9W Signage at Exit 10

If you drive westbound in the right lane at the mandated 45 miles per hour, then you can see the enclosures around some of the scenic overlooks. I stopped at the Nyack Outreach Center Friday to ask about them.

“‘Fish and Ships’ is already done,” the young lady there told me, confirming what I’d heard at another time. She walked me to the table of sample materials and pointed to the enclosure’s material. “It’s more than six miles if you count going from the parking lot.” She smiled. “Maybe people can park in South Nyack and get onto the path from there.”

The first three photos are courtesy of the New York State Thruway Authority.

That’s not something South Nyack wants people to do. Yet to the best of my knowledge, plans to prevent an overflow of cars parking on village streets two years ago came to a standstill (no pun intended) with no progress since then.

Before you even get to South Nyack you need to drive the newly-configured Exit 10. I suggest placing additional signage right at Thruway off ramp telling drivers about the road dividing to Routes 9W north and south, that the turn to Route 9W north is sharp and is not a stopping area. That afternoon a long truck started to bear right into the turn to Route 9W north and then stopped.

Above photo is same turn from an earlier time.

The car behind it stopped short as did I (behind that car); drivers were honking behind us as they completed the exit ramp. The truck driver began backing up, the car in front of me began backing up, and I pulled right into the shoulder as there was no room. The truck was also blocking cars that wanted to bear left to Route 9W south.

They need to know where they’re going before they get to that point and that the road might not accommodate a wide turn if they need to make one. The driver chose Route 9W south; not sure if it’s because he went the wrong way or would be unable to navigate the turn north.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2019

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