moses-bowtie-150x150-5076478Apparently looking to make a big splash with a pre-budget rollout of downstate infrastructure initiatives, Governor Andrew Cuomo aimed for the biggest body of water the could find: the Long Island Sound.

The “2016 agenda” Cuomo unveiled before the Long Island Association today included revived plans for a third track on the main line of the Long Island Railroad, improvements to regional airports and other development projects.

However, the governor couldn’t resist capping off the agenda with an added attention-getter: a $5 million feasibility study of where to build “a tunnel connecting Long Island to either the Bronx, Westchester County or Connecticut.”

The notion of a new Long Island Sound crossing, above or below the water, revives an old pipe dream most memorably championed by the legendary master planner-builder Robert Moses and formally abandoned by Governor Nelson Rockefeller in the face of stiff public and political opposition more than 40 years ago.

Cuomo’s decision to include the tunnel in his announcement today could be written off as harmless political grandstanding, if not for that proposal to spend $5 million to study it—further indication, in case any was needed, that a few million dollars simply doesn’t count as real money in Albany.

Talk of even studying a new L.I. Sound crossing is especially questionable given the governor’s failure to detail how he intends to pay for the one mega-project he actually has under construction. With an estimated price tag of $3.9 billion, the new twin spans replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge over the lower Hudson will cost less than half as much as any conceivable Long Island Sound crossing. Yet the Cuomo-controlled Thruway Authority keeps putting off the inevitable toll increases needed to finance the new Tappan Zee.

In addition, the governor has given no hint of how New York will make good on his recent promise to share at least one-quarter of the estimated $20 billion cost of constructing the badly needed Access to the Region’s Core rail tunnels linking Manhattan and New Jersey.

The notion of building an added bridge or tunnel across Long Island Sound was popular in the first two or three decades following the end of World War II, when the Island was rapidly developing and New York politicians were wholly committed to untrammeled growth. Today, however, the region’s rampant NIMBY-ism squelches even the most modest proposals for residential or commercial development, which helps explain Long Island’s severe lack of rental housing and failure to create more well-paying jobs.

To be sure, a Long Island Sound crossing isn’t physically inconceivable: after all, something on a similar scale was built 50 years ago under Chesapeake Bay. Fiscally—well, that’s another matter. A proposal for a tunnel privately financed by a $25 per car toll was surfaced about a decade ago by a group that included the now-defunct investment bank Bear Stearns, but the underlying traffic projections (just for starters) seemed highly optimistic.

About the Author

E.J. McMahon

Edmund J. McMahon is Empire Center's founder and a senior fellow.

Read more by E.J. McMahon

You may also like

Answers needed on Governor Hochul’s health-care budget

The health-care agenda laid out by Governor Hochul in her budget proposal this week leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Here are a few of them. Read More

The Health Department takes a big step toward COVID transparency

The state Health Department released a flurry of 20 COVID-related data sets this week, taking its biggest step yet toward full transparency about the state's pandemic response. Read More

Remembering the scandal that brought down Health Commissioner Howard Zucker

The resignation of Dr. Howard Zucker as state health commissioner marks the end of a term marred by scandal over his role in managing the coronavirus pandemic. The much-debated compelling nursing homes to admit COVID-positive patients, though it origi Read More

After 10 weeks, all but five of the Empire Center’s 63 requests for pandemic data remain unfulfilled

Over the 10 days that Hochul has been in office, there has been no further progress on the Empire Center's record requests. Read More

New York’s health benefits remain the second-costliest in the U.S.

New York's health benefit costs increased faster than the national average in 2020, leaving it with the second-least affordable coverage in the U.S. The state's average total cost f Read More

Another Hochul To-Do: Timely Financial Reporting

The state will spend a record $212 billion in the current 2022 Fiscal Year, under the budget its elected leaders adopted in April. Read More

Can Cuomo still be impeached?

Andrew Cuomo and Donald Trump have more in common than boyhood homes in Queens. Like Trump, Cuomo could still face impeachment and an impeachment trial despite a promise to resign as Governor later this month. Read More

The Gov’s pension

There are several (dozens? hundreds?) of unanswered questions as the fallout from Andrew Cuomo's resignation earlier today continues. Among those are questions related to his pension, some of which can be answered, sort of. Read More

Subscribe

Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100

General Inquiries: Info@EmpireCenter.org

Press Inquiries: Press@EmpireCenter.org

About

The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.

Empire Center Logo Enjoying our work? Sign up for email alerts on our latest news and research.
Together, we can make New York a better place to live and work!