Cuomo Admin Silent as Media Questions Tappan Zee Fuzzy Math

A new print advertisement from the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, running in the Westchester Journal News, illustrates the fundamental incompleteness of the Cuomo administration's transit-free plan for the Tappan Zee Bridge. For a larger version, ##http://www.streetsblog.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/TPZ-Print-Ad-FINAL.jpg##click here.##

As advocates for transit on the Tappan Zee Bridge take to the airwaves, the media are starting to ask questions about the Cuomo administration’s ever-shifting and unexplained cost estimates for the project.

Over the weekend, Crain’s called attention to the state’s hard-to-believe estimate of the cost of running a new bus rapid transit system across the bridge:

“The state hasn’t told the group why it projects the cost of a bus component to be as much as $5.3 billion, compared with an earlier $1 billion projection that Tri-State transit wonks called inflated to begin with.

Inexplicably, the state now says commuter rail service would be cheaper than the bus option. Typically, rail projects are several times more expensive.”

Then, yesterday, the Observer’s Matt Chaban pointed out that the cost of the transit-free bridge, too, is already inflating. “Meanwhile the bridge may cost an extra $1.4 billion and take longer than expected to complete,” wrote Chaban. “With all that in mind, why not take a little time and get it right.”

There’s a growing chorus of voices calling for transit across the Tappan Zee. A slew of local politicians, including the county executives on both sides of the Hudson, and an ever-growing list of towns have demanded the inclusion of transit on the new span.

The Cuomo administration, however, is doing everything it can to make an informed debate impossible. Crain’s had no more success getting information from the state than Streetsblog has.

By pumping up the cost of transit without explanation and changing its projection for the cost of the bridge itself to suit any given purpose, the state is denying its citizens the information they need to weigh the costs and substantial benefits of Tappan Zee transit. Is the state afraid of what New Yorkers might find?

  • Joe R.

    While on the subject of fuzzy math, we should be asking why the cost of replacing the bridge without transit is so high. The bridge originally cost about $80 million to build. In today’s dollars, this is under $700 million. Why then will a bridge without transit (essentially a replacement for what exists) cost over 7 times that?

    The same line of thought applies to pretty much any large infrastructure project these days. Why on earth on the costs many multiples of what they were years ago, even after correcting for inflation?

  • Anonymous

    What’s Cuomo’s play here?

    Look at the two things they’ve pushed. 

    (i) transit free Tappan Zee; and

    (ii)  A convention center by the aqueduct.

    These two items don’t pass the smell test.  They don’t make sense before you pull out the projections. 

    What is motivating the administration to put their neck out for two boon-doogles proposals that could only pass if aggressively pushed in the middle of the night.

    I had thought Andrew Cuomo to be a savvy politician.  So, I have no idea why he’s pushing these items?

    Campaign contributor payback?  It just doesn’t make sense.

  • Anonymous

    @2555783a6f62598b6aadd2d882a4830f:disqus  Because technology has increased productivity and efficiency so much at every level–wait, that can’t be right.  More graft now?

  • Bolwerk

    @JarekAF:disqus : I think he is savvy, but it doesn’t mean he knows what he’s doing with transportation planning.  It’s a completely different animal from passing something like gay marriage, which essentially doesn’t cost anyone anything and perhaps even brings some revenue into the state.

    He really just doesn’t seem to know what he’s doing.  He sincerely thinks cars are unabashedly good things – the more, the better!

  • The governor is ideologically committed to cars. It’s amazing how we’re seeing the nation divide up right now: pro-car/anti-transit and pro-transit. The oil situation is making the “debate” even more interesting. Queue Newt now. 

  • Bolwerk

    @twitter-27778520:disqus : I don’t even know if he is an ideologue per se.  It may be some deeper axiom for him. Why, of course cars liberated the middle class!

    (His politics are really pretty right-wing in general though, so maybe he is one.)