by Robert Kimmel –
Motorists driving south on Broadway in Tarrytown will find it easier to access the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge beginning this fall. The long-closed ramp on South Broadway to the bridge will be reopened, according to the New York Thruway Authority.
The ramp has been closed since March 2014 to help facilitate the construction of the new Cuomo Bridge and removal of the old Tappan Zee span. The Authority is reluctant to provide the exact date of its reopening, responding only, “in the fall” to queries.
During the bridge construction, ramp E, as labeled by the Thruway Authority, was used for equipment access, staging, workers parking, and ultimately the building of new retaining walls for the area. Use of the space for those purposes, it related, would keep other roadways from being congested. Neighboring the ramp, construction at the Tarrytown landing area is also being completed on a storage building and visitors’ pavilion placed within a plaza.
From the time of its closure in 2014, drivers on South Broadway have had to navigate what many have dubbed the “jug handle” route to get across the bridge. That access requires motorists to bear right just past the closed ramp onto a loop which then places them eastbound on Route 119. Driving almost a quarter mile, they then take a ramp leading onto 1-87 northbound/ I-287 westbound, toward the bridge.
Roadway and ongoing bridge work, resulting in lane changes and closures, have continued to cause occasional traffic slowdowns to the bridge, and local traffic congestion, mostly during rush hours or at night when lanes are closed.
Closing the South Broadway ramp to traffic permanently or having it open only during severe traffic congestion in the vicinity had been debated by the village during its closure. Those possibilities lost support early last year following an analysis by an independent traffic consulting firm which recommended it be opened and available for use as originally planned by the Thruway Authority. Tarrytown’s Board of Trustees supports its re-opening as intended.
Another much anticipated opening for the bridge is scheduled for the fall. The 12-foot wide bike/pedestrian path will be completed on the northern edge of the bridge’s span heading toward Rockland County. Again, the Thruway Authority will not speculate as to its opening date other than stating “during the fall months.”
The pathway will have six overlooks, termed “belvederes” (“beautiful views” in Italian), which will reach out over the Hudson River. Each of six (measuring 12-feet by 60 feet overlooks) will offer pedestrians and cyclists a somewhat different view of the scenery north of the bridge. A concrete barrier separates the bike/pedestrian path from the bridge lanes. Certain policies have not yet been announced regarding its use, such as a speed limit for cyclists.
There are also questions as to how the pathway will be policed, either by foot or patrol car. Tarrytown’s trustees are still assessing how to deal with what could be a decidedly hefty increase in bike traffic in the village. Mayor Drew Fixell has been quoted as saying the increase of cyclists will necessitate coordination between the Tarrytown Police and State Police.
What hours the pathway will be opened, if not 24 hours a day, has not yet been publicly announced. Some officials from adjacent villages have called for its use only during daylight hours, while various bike groups and others want it opened all day.
While much attention about the bridge has been directed at construction work, a related issue cropped up last month causing a controversy. The Thruway Authority stated that some new signs directing motorists to the bridge on various routes were missing the “M,” the middle initial in former Governor Mario M. Cuomo’s name. It was revealed that the signs would need to be changed to correct that omission.
“Replacing the signs is a waste of taxpayer dollars,” State Senator David Carlucci stated, responding to that news. “The minor mistake should be addressed when the signs are under maintenance for general wear and tear,” added Carlucci, who represents Rockland County and Ossining and Briarcliff Manor in Westchester.
“A similar issue happened with the Verrazano Bridge, and the Governor signed legislation into law requiring the change only be made when the signs were under maintenance,” Carlucci noted. “The money spent by the state to change the signs could be better used to fill potholes on our roadways.”
Estimates are that dozens of signs will need to have the “M” added to Gov. Mario Cuomo’s name, as the official label for the bridge.