Saturday, December 04, 2010

Infrastructure Idiocy Abounds Among New York Politicians

It's astounding the sheer gall of Gov. David Paterson in calling on New Jersey to assist in financing the rebuilding of the Tappan Zee Bridge on the New York State Thruway.

At a time when New York couldn't be bothered with coming up with financing for the ARC tunnel to make sure that the interstate project gets completed - such as covering the potential cost overruns that might total anywhere from $1 billion to $5 billion, New Jersey is now being asked to help finance a project that is fully within New York's borders?

It's little wonder then that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie went postal on the idea.
Christie blasted Gov. Paterson's proposal to split the cost of rebuilding the deteriorating Tappan Zee Bridge - even though it doesn't extend into the Garden State.

"I can't make this any clearer to New York than this: Stop screwing with us," Christie told reporters. "You're not going to come and pick our pockets. New Jersey is not going to permit it anymore."

Under Team Paterson's proposal, responsibility for the bridge would be taken from the state Thruway Authority and transferred to the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.

No dice, Christie cried.

"I'm not inclined to extend the port region further into New York just to bite off a monstrous expense," Christie said.

The Paterson administration was "simply offering" an idea, a spokesman said.

The construction work is estimated to cost up to $16 billion.

He said New York officials years ago deliberately kept the bridge out of the Port Authority's control so the Empire State could keep the toll revenue.

"You want to keep all the money to yourself, then you pay for the cost yourself," Christie quipped.

Paterson recently reached out to Christie to discuss the idea, but wound up making his pitch to Jersey's lieutenant governor.

In pushing the idea, Paterson said rebuilding the bridge "might be too much for New York's finances and it might be too much for New Jersey."
The Tappan Zee bridge is operated by the Thruway Authority and the bridge is structurally deficit and in need of replacement. The state has known of this situation for years, and hasn't determined the replacement cost or the design of the replacement span, but they're looking to transfer it to the Port Authority? Is this a tacit acknowledgment that the Thruway Authority's bonding ability is tapped out? That's troublesome enough, but it isn't as though the Port Authority is in much better shape.

The difference here is that the Port Authority is a bistate agency and is supposed to handle joint projects between New York and New Jersey.

It also shows the limitations of the Port Authority as a development agency when the political interests of the two state governors differs. Expect a different position to be taken when Andrew Cuomo is sworn in as Governor in January as Cuomo and Christie are both on the same page regarding reining in the costs of governance and state spending that are crippling both states. If both governors can build on a working relationship, bistate projects are much more likely to get proposed and backed through completion.

Gov. Paterson has to explain how the Port Authority is in a position financially to assist in the rebuilding of the Thruway Authority's Tappan Zee bridge when the Port Authority is cutting jobs and still trying to rebuild the World Trade Center.

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