As the new year kicks off, signs that our national and state leaders are beginning to finally recognize the job-creating potential that rests with infrastructure investment are rife. No longer are we seeing politicians trying to gain recognition by cancelling billion dollar bridge, road or rail projects, claiming that they will increase the deficit — even as they destroyed tens of thousands of good-paying several year long jobs. As evidence that those tactics were self-defeating see the recall petitions running through the states of Wisconsin and Indiana and the fact that the Federal government recently forced the State of New Jersey to refund over $275 million for outlays that were part of the planning and design for the now-cancelled ARC tunnel project under the Hudson River.
Attention is also being paid to New York State where Governor Andrew Cuomo, in his State of the State speech announced a $15 billion infrastructure program that included the proposed commencement of construction for a much-needed new Tappan Zee Bridge. Well, the problem here is that the still under construction Interstate 287 in Westchester County that connects Connecticut to the Tappan Zee Bridge has had the terrible misfortune of being $78 million over budget and unaccountably equates to about $70 million a mile for its construction.
So how will New York State even begin to approach construction for what undoubtedly become a $10 – $20 billion effort to replace the structurally deficient and fracture critical Tappan Zee that each year costs the state $100 million to merely keep from falling into the Hudson River becoming the next version of the doomed I-35W that collapsed in Minneapolis in August 2007?
Barry LePatner’s recent Op Ed piece in Newsday provides some serious suggestions that Governor Cuomo should heed before he starts down the slippery slope of turning so much money over to the highly inefficient and often corrupt construction industry. As always, we welcome your thoughts and comments.