by Barrett Seaman –
It was only a week ago that Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the second, eastbound span of the new Mario M. Como Bridge would open sometime in the month of September—ahead of most projections. Then, on the day after Labor Day, the governor took a gaggle of reporters and photographers out onto the span itself to announce that it would begin to take traffic from Rockland to Westchester starting this Friday night, September 7, and gradually advance to full four-lane volume over the coming weeks.
For good measure, he added that the new Hudson Link express bus service that will provide west-of-Hudson commuters with direct links to transportation hubs in Tarrytown and White Plains will start up on October 29th.
With Thruway Authority Executive Director Matt Driscoll and Jamey Barbas, the overall project manager for the new bridge at his side, Cuomo touted the bridge’s benefits and its record-setting characteristics: it is, he said, “The largest infrastructure project right now in the nation.” With all eight traffic lanes, plus a dedicated lane for buses and, eventually, a 12-ft. wide “shared use” lane for pedestrians and cyclists, the bridge is expected to handle some 50- million people each year going forward.
The shared use lane on the westbound span will probably not be completed until sometime early in 2019, as barriers must be built to protect users from auto traffic. The bridge’s design leaves space between the two spans for a rail line—if and when there are east/west rail links on either side of the river, and if and when there is money to build it.
Other nuggets shared by the governor, who faces a primary against Cynthia Nixon on the 13th, include a set-aside of steel salvaged from the old Tappan Zee Bridge for a competition between Westchester and Rockland County art groups in building sculptures that will eventually reside at each end of the shared use pathway.
Asked once again about the tolls on the new bridge, Cuomo repeated that they would remain at their current $5.00 until 2020. After that, he said, they would be determined after the state reviews and rationalizes the disparate charges levied on bridges and tunnels across the state.