Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.
search  
 
Subscribe   Subscribe   MI on Facebook Find us on Twitter Find us on Instagram      
 
 
   
 
     
 

New York Post

 

Replace The Tappan Zee Now

April 20, 2011

By Nicole Gelinas

Will New York’s leaders watch as residents slowly abandon the state, taking their assets and income with them? One test: Will Gov. Cuomo pledge to build a new Tappan Zee Bridge -- before the old one decays beyond repair?

The Tappan Zee points up what’s wrong with New York. The “Tap” connects Rockland and Westchester counties over the Hudson, just north of Gotham. We rely on it more than ever: Each year, 51 million cars, trucks, and buses cross it -- more than either the Lincoln or Holland tunnels. Yet the Tap is a disaster in slow motion (if we’re lucky).

Today’s traffic far exceeds the Tap’s designed capacity; the resulting delays mean less time at at work or leisure -- harming our economic productivity and quality of life. Worse, without ceaseless repairs and a team of 80 permanent maintenance workers, the bridge could collapse.

And its inevitable, continued deterioration makes for a growing risk. If state officials ever feel they’re losing the battle against the Tap’s deterioration, they’d have to shut the bridge immediately, diverting traffic to clogged arteries to the south and costing, likely, tens of thousands of lost working hours.

Problem is, the bridge was built poorly in the first place. Back in the ’50s, Gov. Tom Dewey wanted it done fast and cheap -- so his Thruway Authority cut engineering corners, making it vulnerable to deterioration.

Keeping the status quo is penny-wise and pound-foolish. The Thruway will spend $1 billion “fixing” the bridge this decade, twice as much as it spent last decade. Next decade, if we still have a bridge to repair, it’ll spend $2 billion (in today’s dollars) -- and double that again in the next 10 years.

Eventually, state officials warn, “continuous maintenance of the Tappan Zee Bridge will be so disruptive and costly as to render the crossing obsolete.”

Building a new bridge now -- one with lanes for buses, and heavy enough to carry a rail line eventually -- would cost $9.3 billion, less than it would cost to repair the old one over the 35 years. (The full figure, with rail, is about $16 billion.)

Twelve years ago, then-Gov. George Pataki said, “We are looking at the possibility of completely replacing the Tappan Zee . . . because it is so old.” A columnist for the local Hudson Valley paper figured it would take at least three years; The New York Times gave it 10.

Yet now, three governors later, the Thruway is only in the early stages of its environmental review. Even if all goes well, the state doesn’t expect to break ground on the bridge until 2015, meaning that Gov. Cuomo wouldn’t be driving the first car over the bridge even in a second term.

It’s tempting to blame the enviro rules. But the fact is that when New York wants to do something, it doesn’t worry about the legal niceties. It took little more than a year to secure environmental approval to extend the No. 7 line to the Far West Side of Manhattan, a project that Mayor Bloomberg threw his political weight -- and the city’s money -- behind.

Cuomo could keep costs down, too, by insisting that private-sector construction unions, if they want these jobs, sign agreements that wring more work out of them -- changing rules that require two people to do the work that one person can safely do.

“We’re broke” has been the excuse for a while. But New York can afford a new Tappan Zee -- we’re the fourth-richest state. Our tax burden is the nation’s third-highest. The state will spend $93 billion this year, not counting federal resources.

But New York spends this cash on other stuff. Of that $93 billion, $19.5 billion will go to schools, $17.3 billion for Medicaid and $6.2 billion for public-employee benefits. Transportation infrastructure will get $2.8 billion (for a total of $3.6 billion, with federal grants).

Cuomo should hammer this point home: Money that we spend on the past -- including pension and health benefits for people who still can retire in their 50s -- is money that we can’t spend on the future.

And if Cuomo asked voters to hold him accountable for big progress on the Tappan Zee before two terms are up, he’d demonstrate more leadership than his colleague across the Hudson.

Last year, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie killed another important Hudson-crossing project, a rail tunnel to ease similarly clogged underground arteries, because he thought it was just too hard to keep costs and schedules under control.

Saying “no” to the infrastructure that helps us keep our future should not be an option.

Original Source: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/replace_the_tappan_zee_now_HssQL8m7j2REBwt3DxjeHN

 

 
PRINTER FRIENDLY
 
LATEST FROM OUR SCHOLARS

Reclaiming The American Dream IV: Reinventing Summer School
Howard Husock, 10-14-14

Don't Be Fooled, The Internet Is Already Taxed
Diana Furchtgott-Roth, 10-14-14

Bad Pension Math Is Bad News For Taxpayers
Steven Malanga, 10-14-14

Book Review: 'Breaking In' By Joan Biskupic
Kay S. Hymowitz, 10-10-14

Neo-Victorianism On Campus
Heather Mac Donald, 10-10-14

Charter Center Advertises for More English Language Learners
Eliza Shapiro, 10-09-14

Workers Interests Are Ill Served By ‘Tipped Wage’
Diana Furchtgott-Roth, 10-09-14

Knowledge Makes A Comeback
Sol Stern, 10-09-14

 
 
 

The Manhattan Institute, a 501(c)(3), is a think tank whose mission is to develop and disseminate new ideas
that foster greater economic choice and individual responsibility.

Copyright © 2014 Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Inc. All rights reserved.

52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10017
phone (212) 599-7000 / fax (212) 599-3494