Cuomo to Co-Host Tappan Zee Public Meetings With Anti-Transit Ideologues

Governor Andrew Cuomo has invited the region's leading anti-transit advocates to co-host his Tappan Zee Bridge public meetings with him. Photo: ##http://www.newsday.com/opinion/keep-up-tappan-zee-pressure-1.3243937##Angel Franco/Newsday##

Up to now, the Cuomo administration hasn’t shown a great regard for public input when it comes to the new Tappan Zee Bridge. The administration dismissed five stakeholder advisory groups, which had been set up to let interested parties dig deep into the details of the project, and shuttered the public outreach offices located on each side of the Hudson.

Today, the Cuomo administration sent out a press release announcing a new set of community meetings. And the details of these meetings tell you everything you need to know about Cuomo’s take on the new Tappan Zee Bridge.

The two meetings, scheduled for July 25 and 26, are sponsored by the Business Council of Westchester and the Rockland Business Association. Business Council chief Marsha Gordon serves as the president of BuildTheBridgeNowNY.org, which offers this take on Tappan Zee transit:

The reality is that the patterns of most Americans reveals in consumer survey after survey that the overwhelming majority of people prefer to live in a house with a yard, drive a car to work and for shopping.

As such, it’s probably unrealistic to expect a mass migration to mass transit. The latest auto show in Detroit unveiled vehicles that have morphed into smartphones with four wheels and an ever-increasing fuel efficient engine. Even the least expensive cars today are smart, fun and sexy; why would anyone ever want to leave them?

Gordon’s Rockland equivalent, Al Samuels, is also a BuildTheBridgeNowNY.org member, and he has his own unique qualification for hosting public meetings.

This May, he directly criticized anyone who believes transit should have a place in the Hudson Valley’s future:

“Anyone who wants to add to the cost of that bridge is an obstructionist. I don’t care if it’s a political figure. I don’t care if it’s a community activist organization. I don’t care if it’s an organization that says they are champions of mass transit. It’s pure obstructionism.”

As an extra hedge against any spontaneous outpourings of democratic input, the governor has required all participants in its new community meetings to RSVP beforehand.

But don’t worry: the RSVP form promises that parking will be provided.

  • mythsaretoofunnottospread

    How can sb.org move this message beyond this subset that reads these posts? How can more residents be engaged in this conversation. I believe there is true corruption involved in this decision-making process. Marsh Gordon’s quote, above, sounds like a Chevy Ad.

  • And the buildthebridgenowny.org site reads like a Randall O’Toole article or an op-ed coming out of Texas. It’s certainly not representative of the most transit-friendly region in the country. Astounding. But yes, spread the word is a good first step. But likely not enough. Ideas are welcome.

  • Erik Griswold

    Anyone interested in “the national defense” such as the US Department of Defense, the New York State National Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) ought to be interested in having a railway across that bridge.  The next crossings of the Hudson are around 20 miles in either direction which is enormous when you consider the area population.  Didn’t Katrina show us how important it can be to be able to move large groups of people, especially those without access to private cars?

    And have either of these two heard of a place called Indian Point?

  • Robert Moses

    Andrew, I’m proud of ya.

  • IanM

    Nothing is more infuriating from advocates of car-dependency than when they point to the environment they themselves are creating – where transit is chronically underfunded and driving is subsidized, and as a result most people develop car-oriented lifestyles – and say “See? People prefer driving!”

    On this particular issue though – I think transit advocates could make their case a lot better if there were some more concrete proposals for what transit on the Tappan Zee would consist of. If those exist, they’re hard to find. In theory, what transit lines could the bridge be a part of? Where would they go on either side of the bridge? What areas would they serve? Would they be commuter lines or inter-city? Or just shuttles between White Plains and Nanuet?

    Even some completely hypothetical ideas would make this issue a lot more real for people. It’s hard for most area residents to know whether this is something to get worked up over without having any idea what sort of benefits we’re missing out on without transit on the Tappan Zee.

  • Fbfree

    IanM,

    Specifying a detailed transit implementation scheme before defining the need or the commitment generally complicates the pro-transit case rather than contributing to it.  Transit is possible across the Tappan Zee in many forms.  The problem is that Cuomo is defining his support for transit across the bridge as less than zero.

  • IanM

    Fbfree,

    I understand that, but perhaps “defining the need” is exactly what is missing at this point then. I’m not asking for details, I’m just asking what the purpose is, in broad terms – to help Rockland County residents commute to NYC? To help NYC residents take weekend trips to the Catskills? Or to facilitate more long-distance travel? It’s hard to make an argument that we need something so badly without even theorizing broadly about what the heck it might do.

    Maybe as a starting point, some study on the general nature of car trips on the bridge would be helpful. i.e., are the majority of them daily commutes (if so, between where and where), commercial traffic, long trips, or short shopping trips by area residents? Which of these trips do advocates think could most easily be replaced by a hypothetical transit line?

  • KillMoto

    How bout we all drive to the meeting venues and block the streets, take up all the parking?

  • Smart Growther

    I think IanM is right. Who is the guy that benefits from future “transit” on the Tappan Zee. Where is he coming from and where is he going? What does his trip look like with transit and without. Advocates need to paint this picture and explain it very clearly. 

  • Anonymous

    The state actually had well-developed transit plans (for a couple examples, see http://www.tzbsite.com/public-involvement/sawg-presentations/round12/lu_traffic-trans20090505/image/image6.jpg and http://www.streetsblog.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/TappanZeeAlternativeB.jpg — there’s much more detailed stuff available too.) If you follow the local press, I think it’s pretty clear people do know what they’re not getting, and are plenty upset. 

  • Eric McClure

    It’s no small feat to make me feel wistful for George Pataki and Eliot Spitzer.

  • IanM

    @Noah_Kazis:disqus Hurrah! Thank you. That’s what I’m talking about. My humble opinion is that you should include more info about this sort of thing in ongoing coverage.
    I am a very pro-transit NYC resident – a fairly regular Streetsblog reader, for crying out loud, engaged enough that I’m commenting 3 times on one article – and I wasn’t aware of most of this, so I’m pretty sure you’re probably not right that the general public are informed about what transit on the Tappan Zee could be. Which, it seems at a quick glance, is some regional bus service among towns in Rockland and Westchester counties, something that has the potential to be very transformative for a region that is close to a transit-friendly metro center but still mostly quite car-dependent. An interesting opportunity that needs to be talked about more, in addition to your valuable reporting on Cuomo’s steamrolling.

  • Steve Faust

    The TZB planning study that Andy killed took as a basic premise that there was no possible way to meet travel demand with private cars alone, no matter how wide the bridge.  There would be limits to Thruway capacity, and even the bridge would overload if single occupant auto travel was continued as the norm.
    The work that Noah cites was through in looking at trip origin/destination as well as regional growth to conclude that significant high occupancy capacity vehicles would be needed to meet travel needs.
    The original TZB study recommended an express bus system as a minimum – with express lanes and exclusive pull-off bus stations to speed buses along.  Second, they recommended bringing the Metro North Hudson Line across the bridge and to Suffern with express rail stops.

    The bus and rail stations would be linked to park and ride, and feeder bus routes.  I strongly suggested including viable bicycle and pedestrian access to the express and feeder bus stops as well.  If they don’t plan for bikes and peds in these high traffic areas, it won’t be safe to ride or walk to the stations.  The “low cost” express bus would have a series of stops across Rockland and Westchester, with a direct link to the Tarrytown rail station.  The express lanes would fit within the Thruway right-of-way – mostly – as one extra lane each way, plus whatever widening or ramps are needed for the bus stations.  One express bus lane can carry more people that the three existing lanes put together.  And yes, they have a pretty good idea that this high speed service will attract current and future commuters.

    The rail service would be much more expensive than the bus, but between the MTA, Metro North and Federal Transit Admin, a pretty reasonable high speed rail system would be installed.  This train line would collect large volumes of riders from west of Hudson traveling into the NYC CBD – primarily Grand Central, although Hudson Line trains can be routed to Penn Station as well.

    Ian, you asked a good question, but yes, the original TZB study had already been there and had a damned good handle on the demand, service and costs.  My only concerns with that plan was that had not yet addressed the small, but critical impacts on bicycle and pedestrian travel along and across the corridor.  Been there, done that, being abandoned.

  • Nathanael

    Honestly, I don’t see any option other than organizing directly against Andrew Cuomo.  He’s made it clear that he’s a right-winger in Democrat’s clothing — his pro-fracking behavior is even worse.

  • Matt

    exactly. with democrats like these, who needs republicans?

  • Phil Perspective

    Nathanael:
    He’s another Evan Bayh or even Mitt Romney.  A son of a political icon who’s a lot farther right than his father.  And a big idiot as well.  He’s another idiot that likely thinks, like Evan Bayh, that his family name will carry him to great heights.  Hopefully he’ll suffer the same fate Bayh did before reaching any higher office.

  • Anonymous

    The reality is that the patterns of most Americans reveals in consumer survey after survey that the overwhelming majority of people prefer to live in a house with a yard, drive a car to work and for shopping.

    Wait what?  Are they on drugs?  Yah, drive to bed bath and beyond.  Drive to soccer.  You’ll want to take the train to Penn Station for your commute though.  How backwards are these people. 

    Noah, follow the money!!!! FOIA the f— out of these groups.

    There are kickbacks, favors and the like driving this process.  Nothing else explains this motivation. 

  • Anonymous

    train to GC I mean. 

  • Charles_Siegel

    “most Americans reveals in consumer survey after survey that the
    overwhelming majority of people prefer to live in a house with a yard,
    drive a car to work and for shopping.”

    That is because most Americans don’t realize that you can live in a house with a yard, take transit to work, and walk to shopping.  That is the way it was in streetcar suburbs at the edge of New York a century ago.  That is the way it is in some suburbs being built today.  And that is a pattern that most Americans who now prefer auto-dependent suburbs would want – if they knew that it is possible.

  • I find the quotes in this article infuriating, and I’m not a man easily infuriated. 

  • Bolwerk

    Most Americans believe in angels too.  But the message here is unmistake. It goes, transit users: pay for our roads and STFU.

  • Ben Kintisch

    I wonder if the dozens of politicians on both sides of the river have been invited, or if it will just be packed with supporters of the build it now crowd.