by Robert Kimmel –
First it was this past fall, and then January, followed by March, as the times asserted by the New York State Thruway Authority when the South Broadway ramp in Tarrytown would likely open for motorists to access the Governor Mario Cuomo Bridge. It has not yet happened, however, now another estimated time for its opening has been relayed: “shortly, this spring.”
When it does open, southbound traffic on Broadway (Route 9) will be able to avoid the so-called “jug handle.” That maneuver requires bridge-bound drivers to take a loop around to Route 119 eastbound, and then, following less than a quarter mile drive, make a right turn to enter Interstate 287 to reach the bridge.
The re-opened bridge entry will allow direct access from Broadway for the first time in six years. It was in March 2014 when that passage to the old Tappan Zee Bridge closed as the span’s destruction began. The ramp’s opening is expected to eliminate traffic jams that have snarled cars on Broadway because of back-ups originating on Rt. 119 during peak drive times. However, it is also likely to attract drivers to Broadway who have weaved through Tarrytown to avert slowdowns toward the bridge on Interstate 287 during those same time periods.
The ramp opening delays reportedly were mainly the result of safety measures instituted for workers continuing construction on the span’s Westchester side landing plaza. With both a shared walking path and bike pathway across the bridge expected to be open by this summer, the landings on both sides of the bridge will provide space for vendors to offer food and other amenities for both bikers and pedestrians. Along the more than three-mile-long pathway, there are six scenic overlooks as attractions for non-drivers.
Earlier in March, The Thruway Authority requested qualified vendors interested in “merchant opportunities” to inform it about their “products and services that can be offered at designated spaces at the path’s landings starting this summer.” Other attractions are also planned. “Amenities at either end of the path in Tarrytown and South Nyack include public art, interactive displays, restrooms and parking,” the Thruway Authority stated.
“A world class bridge deserves world class services,” Thruway Authority Executive Director Matthew J. Driscoll stated. “As we prepare to open the shared use path on the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, we want to able to provide visitors the finest products and most convenient services that New York State has to offer.”
There has been no word from the New York Thruway Authority as to whether the coronavirus pandemic might upset its schedules for bridge happenings. It has altered toll collection throughout the State. It has halted collecting cash for tolls and is billing drivers by mail via license plate information tracking.
The New York State Thruway will stop collecting cash for tolls and will instead bill each driver by license plate as part of its COVID-19 response. The new toll policy will begin at 8 p.m. Sunday, March 29th according to the Thruway Authority.
Customers without E-ZPass will enter the Thruway in a cash lane and continue through the lane without collecting a ticket. They will exit the Thruway and inform the toll collector which exit they entered and provide their license plate information. Motorists will be sent a bill in the mail in approximately 30 days. Bills will be sent to the registered owner of the vehicle at the address on file with DMV. Customers can pay with a credit card on the Thruway Authority website.
E-ZPass customers will not be impacted and can travel through E-ZPass lanes as they would normally.