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Shared-Use Path on Bridge Finally Opens; Broadway Entry Ramp to Follow?

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June 13, 2020

The Thruway Authority has confirmed the opening today, Monday June 15, of the “shared use” pedes­trian bi­cy­cle path, on the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge. The announcement came after unofficial reports it would open today, and a teaser yesterday from Governor Andrew Cuomo at his Albany press briefing.

“We’ll have to see what happens tomorrow. But if I were you, I’d get on my
bicycle now and ride South,” the governor responded when asked about the shared path’s opening.”

Cautionary measures were issued by the Thruway Authority for today’s 2 p.m. opening, and its ongoing use. “Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, path visitors should wear a face mask and practice social distancing by keeping at least six feet of distance between themselves and others,” it stated.

The cy­cling-walk­ing path, 12 feet wide along the westbound span, and sep­a­rated from traf­fic by a con­crete barrier, has a num­ber of ameni­ties, in­clud­ing six scenic over­looks lo­cated along its three-mile length.

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Sculp­tures, some made from metal taken from the old Tap­pan Zee Bridge struc­ture, will adorn both ends of the bridge, and food ven­dors will also be lo­cated at the span’s land­ing plazas. In ad­di­tion to the pub­lic art ex­hib­ited, there will be in­ter­ac­tive dis­plays, re­strooms and some park­ing.  The path will be open daily ex­cept from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

The shared path’s open­ing has not been con­firmed by the New York Thruway Au­thor­ity; how­ever, it does say that ramp E from South Broad­way in Tar­ry­town will re-open for auto traf­fic “in the com­ing weeks.”

When the traffic ramp open­ing hap­pens, it will en­able dri­vers head­ing to­ward Rock­land County to take that bridge en­trance for the first time since March, 2014, when it was closed as work­ers be­gan de­struc­tion of the old Tap­pan Zee Bridge.

Be­gin­ning last year, the Thruway Au­thor­ity had made var­i­ous pre­dic­tions as to when ramp E would be open­ing, in­clud­ing by New Year’s day, and then by early spring. It has­n’t hap­pened, ap­par­ently in or­der to main­tain safety mea­sures for work­ers con­tin­u­ing to toil on struc­tures astride the ramp within the bridge’s Westch­ester land­ing plaza.

Dri­vers us­ing the ramp will avoid hav­ing to take a cir­cuitous route la­beled the “jug han­dle” in or­der to reach the bridge off South Broad­way, (Route 9). It re­quires a right turn into a loop lead­ing to east­bound Tar­ry­town Road, and then nearly a quar­ter mile drive to­ward an­other right turn to reach west­bound in­ter­state 287 head­ing to the bridge.

What ef­fect the ramp E use will have on traf­fic along Route 9 in Tar­ry­town re­mains to be seen. Some of­fi­cials an­tic­i­pate greater use of the South Broad­way ramp will add to traf­fic flow along the road­way by mo­torists avoid­ing po­ten­tial slow­downs on In­ter­state 287 head­ing to the bridge dur­ing heavy drive times.

Some prob­lems are fore­seen for pedes­tri­ans and bik­ers by Daniel Con­vis­sor, Di­rec­tor of Bike Tar­ry­town. While call­ing the Shared Use Path “fan­tas­tic,” Con­vis­sor states, “Un­for­tu­nately, the state has bun­gled the im­ple­men­ta­tion in key ways. In­suf­fi­cient thought has been given to safety on Route 9 around the Tar­ry­town end of the Shared Use Path. We an­tic­i­pate 5,000 peo­ple will bike across the bridge on peak days,” he fore­casts. “Many peo­ple will walk and run on the bridge as well.”

“There are many rea­sons peo­ple walk across Route 9 in this area,” Con­vis­sor ob­serves, while tak­ing is­sue with the lo­ca­tions of ex­ist­ing cross­walks. “They are out of the way for some trips,” he charges, and “un­safe.”

Con­vis­sor claims that walk­ing and bik­ing con­di­tions nearby along both sides of Route 9 are also un­safe be­cause of the nar­row width of the side­walks and their “bad con­di­tion” in some lo­ca­tions, and that pedes­tri­ans and bik­ers could be en­dan­gered at cross­walks by “speed­ing cars and trucks” pulling into cer­tain dri­ve­ways and en­ter­ing the E ramp en­trance.

He also ob­jects to the re­quire­ment that bik­ers will have to stop six times while cross­ing the bridge. He adds that “cy­clists dis­mount” signs in South Ny­ack “are an Amer­i­can Dis­abil­i­ties Act vi­o­la­tion be­cause there are folks rid­ing bike/​trikes who ei­ther can’t walk or can’t do so eas­ily.”

Con­vis­sor has writ­ten to Gov­er­nor Cuomo sev­eral times ex­plain­ing these  re­quests and sug­gest­ing other fixes. While the Thruway Au­thor­ity has re­sponded in the past, his last com­mu­ni­ca­tion in March, bear­ing his sig­na­ture along with those of five other bike club di­rec­tors in the re­gion, ap­par­ently has not been an­swered.

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