To the editor:
The photo-op of Gov. Cuomo driving across the new Tappan Zee Bridge spoke volumes concerning his commitment to the MTA and mass transit.
Construction of the Verrazano Bridge did not include capacity for connecting the subway from Brooklyn to Staten Island. The new Tappan Zee Bridge provides no heavy rail connections to Metro-North, with communities west of Westchester including Orange, Rockland, Ulster and Sullivan counties, to Grand Central Terminal.
This could have provided a new option for thousands of New York City-bound commuters west of Hudson.
Riverdale residents who are reverse commuters looking for access to jobs west of Hudson would also have benefitted. It would have provided relief to both the Port Authority Bus Terminal and Penn Station. It reduced the total project cost by more than $1 billion.
This is why Gov. Cuomo never acknowledges the real reason the project came in on budget.
To pay back the $1.6 billion federal loan, which helped finance the new Tappan Zee Bridge, tolls will have to go up by several dollars.
The well-respected Moody’s Investment Services estimates the tolls will go up to $7.60 by 2021 and $15 by 2026 for the Thruway Authority to be able to pay back this loan.
Remember, Cuomo still owes $5.8 billion toward fully funding the $32 billion MTA five-year capital plan. Add an additional $1 billion he pledged in response to recent subway and Long Island Railroad Penn Station problems.
Construction costs for the Gateway Tunnel are $29 billion. Cuomo committed to contributing 25 percent of the total cost, but has yet to identify the source of his $7.25 billion.
When it comes to paying for all his promised transportation projects, Cuomo reminds me of Wimpy, who famously said, “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” It is a safe bet that taxpayers and commuters will be paying higher fares, taxes and tolls in coming years to cover the costs.