ALBANY – Three area state lawmakers and a local labor leader have voiced their opposition to the governor’s proposal to have the Thruway Authority take over the New York State Bridge Authority.
The Bridge Authority operates the five Mid-Hudson bridges across the Hudson River – The Rip Van Winkle, Kingston-Rhinecliff, Mid-Hudson, Newburgh-Beacon and Bear Mountain.
Senators James Skoufis (D, Woodbury) and Jennifer Metzger (D, Rosendale), Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson (D, Newburgh) along with regional CSEA President Anthony Adamo, condemned the proposal, which came shortly after the Thruway board announced toll hikes beginning 2021 to the cost of the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge at Tappan Zee.
The lawmakers and union leader expressed concern that a Bridge Authority takeover would lead to increased tolls on the crossings that currently have low rates.
Jacobson called the proposal an “ill-thought merger” and said the five Mid-Hudson bridges “constitute a vital link between municipalities on both sides of the Hudson, offering residents a fast, safe, and reliable way to get to work, shop, attend school, and visit doctors, and other services across the river from their homes.”
“Let’s just call this what it is: a backdoor attempt to raise our Mid-Hudson tolls to subsidize the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge,” said Skoufis.
“There’s a reason the Bridge Authority and Thruway Authority have functioned as two separate entities: they serve two completely different constituencies with distinct and diverse needs,” Skoufis said, saying that not only with tolls rise, “but mid-Hudson stakeholders’ voices will be effectively shut out.
Metzger said the Bridge Authority is “an efficient, well-run organization that successfully operates and maintains five bridges in the Hudson Valley at low cost, and we should keep it that way,” said Metzger. “There are no efficiencies to be gained by the governor’s proposal… and there is only one direction for tolls to go under this scenario: Up.
CSEA regional leader Adamo, meanwhile, said the Bridge Authority has long been a fiscally stable entity that has provided exemplary maintenance and oversight of its five Hudson River crossings.” He said given the fiscal concerns of the Thruway Authority, “a merger would be nothing more than a way to raid the Bridge Authority to pay for projects elsewhere in the state.”