Thruway Authority, Not Cuomo, Announces Tappan Zee Transit Task Force

On Friday afternoon, the New York State Thruway Authority announced the 28 members of the Tappan Zee Bridge Mass Transit Task Force. Unlike the announcement of the committee that picked the winning bid to build to bridge, the task force announcement was made by the Thruway Authority, not Governor Cuomo himself, who has otherwise put himself front-and-center as the project’s public face. The announcement came nearly four months after the executives of Rockland, Westchester, and Putnam counties agreed to the task force in exchange for signing off on the Tappan Zee Bridge plan.

Proposal 1, the recommended option for the new Tappan Zee Bridge. Transit sold separately. Image: Thruway Authority

The panel has no binding authority, but if better transit along the I-287 corridor can be salvaged from the Tappan Zee project, the path forward starts with the transit task force. It includes local and county electeds, transportation professionals, and representatives of the business community — but strangely fails to include anyone from the MTA, which was one of the original conveners of the Traffic and Transit working group in the Tappan Zee planning process that Cuomo abandoned last year.

Sources had indicated to Streetsblog that members of the task force would be named after the bridge’s design selection committee had made a recommendation to the governor, because some individuals would serve in both groups. The task force and the design committee have nine members in common: DOT Commissioner Joan McDonald, Deputy Secretary for Transportation Karen Rae, Mark Roche of consulting firm Arup, Thruway board member Brandon Sall, Robert Yaro of the Regional Plan Association, village mayors Tish Dubow and Drew Fixell, and county executives Rob Astorino and C. Scott Vanderhoef.

Before the deal was reached to let the transit-less bridge move forward, a number of counties and towns had called on Cuomo to restore transit to the TZB project. One of the good signs in Friday’s announcement is that they are represented on the task force. The task force members who had signed on to TZB transit efforts led by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign (represented on the task force by executive director Veronica Vanterpool) include the county executives, Tarrytown’s Fixell, Assembly Member Amy Paulin, and State Senators David Carlucci and Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

On the other side, task force member Marsha Gordon of the Business Council of Westchester County was a major cheerleader for Cuomo’s transit-less bridge proposal, and Assembly Member Ellen Jaffee was an early endorser.

Unlike the design selection committee, which was announced in September and wrapped up its work in under three months, the transit task force was formed nearly four months after the initial announcement and is expected to take a year to make its recommendations, addressing both short- and long-term steps to bring transit to the I-287 corridor.

There have been no announcements to either the public or to task force members about when the task force will hold its first meeting, or if it will convene on a regular schedule.

Here’s the complete list of “Mass Transit Task Force” appointees:

Rob Astorino, Westchester County Executive
Scott Baird, Nyack Chamber of Commerce
David Carlucci, Member, New York State Senate
Peter Casper, New York State Thruway Authority
Harriet Cornell, Chairwoman, Rockland County Legislature
Jan Degenshein, architect and planner, former Chairman, Rockland Business Association
Jonathan Drapkin, Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress
Tish Dubow, Mayor, Village of South Nyack
Kristine Edwards, New York State Department of Transportation
Drew Fixell, Mayor, Village of Tarrytown
Marsha Gordon, Business Council of Westchester County
Ellen Jaffee, Member, New York State Assembly
Thomas Madison, Executive Director, New York State Thruway Authority
Joan McDonald, Commissioner, New York State Department of Transportation
John Nonna, Board Member, Westchester League of Conservation Voters
Larry Salley, former Westchester County Transportation Commissioner
Veronica Vanterpool, Tri-State Transportation Campaign
Amy Paulin, Member, New York State Assembly
Karen Rae, Deputy Secretary to the Governor for Transportation
Tom Roach, Mayor, City of White Plains
Mark Roche, Arup Engineering
Christopher St. Lawrence, Supervisor Town of Ramapo
Brandon Sall, Board Member, New York State Thruway Authority
Mary Jane Shimsky, Member, Westchester Board of Legislators
Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Member, New York State Senate
C. Scott Vanderhoef, Rockland County Executive
Jen White, Mayor, Village of Nyack
Robert Yaro, President, Regional Plan Association

  • Bolwerk

    Well, since it’s not even in that bad shape, why isn’t anyone pushing for rail transit on the current structure? At least that would salvage the MNRR extension.

    It’s almost like the transit “advocates” don’t want transit either. Really, this should be front and center.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I wonder if people will have the Yankee Stadium parking fiasco in their minds as they approach the question of transit on the bridge.  If transit was provided, who would pay for it and use all that capacity?

    I wonder how high the toll will be for buses.  Will it be based on the amount of road space used, or per person?

  • Annoyedbyhighranches

    I don’t necessarily blame Cuomo – he appeals to the blue collar base in Rockland/Orange, which is ardently anti-transit. He’s doing what he needs to do to solidify his 70% approval ratings – he’s delivering a massive gift to suburbia. 

  • JamesR

    “Well, since it’s not even in that bad shape, why isn’t anyone pushing for rail transit on the current structure? At least that would salvage the MNRR extension.

    It’s almost like the transit “advocates” don’t want transit either. Really, this should be front and center.”Advocates have indeed been pushing for reuse of the existing structure, and the Cuomo Administration has made it clear in no uncertain terms that reuse is off the table. There was a big push to have it preserved as a suburban, linear “High Line” style park. The state likely does not want to deal with the potential liability headaches that could come with adaptive reuse of a structure beyond its design life.

  • To mix the bike mode with transit, this TZB task force should be looking at bike-and-ride secure bike parking at bus stops and at the Tarrytown RR station.  Bike-on-bus via front racks or bikes inside buses can solve the “first and last mile” problem of getting to and from transit line haul routes that causes many people to drive.
    The new TZB includes a guaranteed bike/ped path, but all non-motorized improvements stop at each end of the bridge path.  There are no plans to provide safe sidewalks and roadways to reach and leave the bridge, not even a signalized crosswalk over Route 9 in Tarrytown.  Small things, like a safe walking and cycling route between the bridge path and the Tarrytown Metro North station should be provided.  There will almost certainly be Metro North commuters from Rockland County bicycling across the bridge to Tarrytown, and TZB walkers and cyclists arriving by train.  A slightly more complex problem is the 2.5 miles along Route 119 from the TZB to the Putnam Rail Trail – South County Trail in Elmsford.  This will become a transit issue, because of  a space conflict between cyclists and transit buses on Rt 119, because the road was rebuilt without bike lanes or wide shoulder lanes.  Rt 119 is the shortest, flattest, most direct connection to the Rail Trail.  The Putnam/South County Trail is a grade separated bicycle parkway running directly to the Bronx only 15 miles south.  If the earlier bridge transit plans are any guide, there will be more buses along Rt 119, and many more cyclists.  Failure to address this transit and cycling growth puts both bus drivers and cyclists at great risk.  Bike lanes should be installed on both sides of Rt 119.

  • Michael

    @facebook-100001742417772:disqus Hmm, 119 is maybe the flattest route to the North/South County trail but a really ugly road, even if they would add bike lanes.  If you head north, you are better off taking 9 to Neperan to the reservoir trail connector  or, a bit more complicated but less trafficked, via 9, Prospect, Highland, to the reservoir …


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