The version of the below letter appeared recently in the Journal News. This was written by Elyse Knight, Piermont resident and former Honorary Secretary of the Tappan Zee Preservation Coalition.
They have completely discarded other options for which the public has consistently expressed support: to rehabilitate the existing bridge or replace it with a tunnel. They've also disregarded the democratic process put in place to protect the environment and our rights as citizens. They’ve scrapped all the public comments which were purportedly collected during the 12 years of scoping meetings we all attended, expressing our concerns over air quality, the Hudson, our communities,traffic, transit options, costs, and noise. Now the Cuomo administration has thrown all of that public input into the dumpster. Instead of listening to us, and coming up with the best solution for all of our concerns, they are shoving these humongous new bridges down our throats, ignoring requests for an extension to resubmit our comments, and coercing our representatives into signing off on it. Where is the outrage? One local official I spoke with told me in confidence that dealing with this Cuomo administration is like dealing with the mafia.
Never mind that what they are proposing is illegal. It’s called segmentation: you can’t divide a huge project like this one into two or more separate projects, with two separate environmental reviews. They are telling us, "First we’ll build the bridge, making it 'transit ready,' then, one fine day when the economy is flush with money, we’ll consider putting some buses on there for you." That’s not good enough. They need to share with us the design they’ve chosen (the comment period has closed but we don’t even know what they are planning!), they need to give us full analysis of alternatives like rehabbing the existing bridge or a tunnel, what sort of transit there will be, what property they will be taking, where they will be widening the Thruway and where they will put the bus/train stops. They need to tell us what the impacts will be on traffic, air quality and noise; on local roads and in our communities; and on the Hudson and all its wildlife and fish. Instead, they are planning to do what they planned to do all along with or without our input or consent: build a bigger, wider bridge, with no transit. Guess what’s next? Not public transit, but a widening of the Thruway from Nyack to Suffern. They’ve already done the work on the Westchester side.
So when we visit the TZ Bridge project website, I, and all my fellow Hudson valley residents and public advocates, will never find any evidence of the work we did in good faith to protect our homes, our communities, the Hudson, and the scenic vistas; and we will never have the opportunity to re-submit those opinions, questions or concerns. Again, I ask, where is the outrage? This is an example of the type of political coercion, lack of transparency and manipulation of public opinion one would expect to find in the Soviet Union. Our “dear leader,” Governor Cuomo has spoken, and everybody had better get on board with his plans, or else. Our local leaders have completely failed us. Let’s make sure they understand that we know they’ve failed us, and demand that our voices be heard.
Former Honorary Secretary
The Tappan Zee Preservation Coalition