BY Al Samuels
For over a decade the Rockland Business Association has been fighting for a new, safe . I believe ours was the first organization to champion this issue. I know ours was the first voice calling for a one-seat, dual-track rail component linking Rockland and the west bank of the Hudson with Grand Central Station.
We have always sought a mass transit system that would allow us to market our side of the river as Westchester is capable of doing because it has three such rail links with Manhattan.
I, personally, have viewed a bus mode as not being in the best interest of Rockland. I see it as a means of tapping into our workforce, particularly those in bio-pharma, without a reasonable expectation that we would have the ability to do the same. We only hear about a Suffern to Port Chester system. We have never heard about a Port Chester to Suffern system. The east to west run would be the return trip from the system carrying commuters into Westchester. Not equitable. Not desirable. And, certainly, nothing that should be supporting.
Also, BRT is not just dedicated lanes over a new bridge. It requires new, extremely expensive high-tech busses. Who is supposed to provide for the purchase and operation of these busses? Currently, only Rockland operates a across the TZ Bridge. Is this supposed to fall to us? I don't think so. A quick review of our financial position would explain that in no uncertain terms.
And, what if the busses were available and dedicated lanes were provided on a new bridge, is the Thruway Authority prepared to dedicate highway lanes for this system? I don't think so. Is Westchester prepared to dedicate lanes on the Cross Westchester Expressway? I doubt that, too. So how is this "system" supposed to work?
My point, here, is just to note that we support mass transit, but mass transit that would truly benefit our constituents, the businesses of Rockland. Also, we take Governor Cuomo at his word, there is no money for mass transit at this time -- not rail nor bus. So, it is with great concern that we read the press release regarding a new coalition demanding mass transit from day one operation of a new bridge and the articles and editorials supporting what, unfortunately, isn't advocacy, but obstructionism. When does it end?
The serviceability of the current structure is diminished each day. And, I don't believe the "experts" actually can project when that inevitable "failure" will occur. I understand the zealotry of the transportation and the environmental groups pursuing their "Holy Grail," but I am saddened by the participation of elected officials who should have a broader perspective.
I was concerned that some of my state representatives were included in the recently announced , so I called them. I was assured that their "participation" was in support of the "concept" of mass transit, not for the "demand" it be included or a new bridge not be built. Like us, in the RBA, they are most concerned about the lives and welfare of the people using the TZ Bridge and believe the process of building a new bridge must be advanced.
I was amused by the participation of electeds who never have supported a new bridge and now are advocating for a mass transit system. I see their role as furthering the obstructionism we have seen for over a decade. Elected officials who oppose the plan presented by Gov. Cuomo are continuing the decade of dysfunction that has stalled this project and are jeopardizing the creation of tens of thousands of jobs at a time when we need them most.
In this time of economic challenge, it is beyond irresponsible for any elected official to present obstacles to the construction of a new bridge. Building a new bridge, as quickly as possible, will put New Yorkers in the Hudson Valley back to work and will provide for the safety of all those who use the TZB to cross the Hudson. We have fought for a new bridge for over a decade, delaying progress yet again and killing jobs at the same time simply doesn't make sense.
And, most importantly, do any of you want to see a Minneapolis on the Hudson?
Al Samuels is President/CEO of the Rockland Business Association, Inc.