Thruway Authority, Not Cuomo, Announces Tappan Zee Transit Task Force

On Friday afternoon, the New York State Thruway Authority announced the 28 members of the Tappan Zee Bridge Mass Transit Task Force. Unlike the announcement of the committee that picked the winning bid to build to bridge, the task force announcement was made by the Thruway Authority, not Governor Cuomo himself, who has otherwise put himself front-and-center as the project’s public face. The announcement came nearly four months after the executives of Rockland, Westchester, and Putnam counties agreed to the task force in exchange for signing off on the Tappan Zee Bridge plan.

Proposal 1, the recommended option for the new Tappan Zee Bridge. Transit sold separately. Image: Thruway Authority

The panel has no binding authority, but if better transit along the I-287 corridor can be salvaged from the Tappan Zee project, the path forward starts with the transit task force. It includes local and county electeds, transportation professionals, and representatives of the business community — but strangely fails to include anyone from the MTA, which was one of the original conveners of the Traffic and Transit working group in the Tappan Zee planning process that Cuomo abandoned last year.

Sources had indicated to Streetsblog that members of the task force would be named after the bridge’s design selection committee had made a recommendation to the governor, because some individuals would serve in both groups. The task force and the design committee have nine members in common: DOT Commissioner Joan McDonald, Deputy Secretary for Transportation Karen Rae, Mark Roche of consulting firm Arup, Thruway board member Brandon Sall, Robert Yaro of the Regional Plan Association, village mayors Tish Dubow and Drew Fixell, and county executives Rob Astorino and C. Scott Vanderhoef.

Before the deal was reached to let the transit-less bridge move forward, a number of counties and towns had called on Cuomo to restore transit to the TZB project. One of the good signs in Friday’s announcement is that they are represented on the task force. The task force members who had signed on to TZB transit efforts led by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign (represented on the task force by executive director Veronica Vanterpool) include the county executives, Tarrytown’s Fixell, Assembly Member Amy Paulin, and State Senators David Carlucci and Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

On the other side, task force member Marsha Gordon of the Business Council of Westchester County was a major cheerleader for Cuomo’s transit-less bridge proposal, and Assembly Member Ellen Jaffee was an early endorser.

Unlike the design selection committee, which was announced in September and wrapped up its work in under three months, the transit task force was formed nearly four months after the initial announcement and is expected to take a year to make its recommendations, addressing both short- and long-term steps to bring transit to the I-287 corridor.

There have been no announcements to either the public or to task force members about when the task force will hold its first meeting, or if it will convene on a regular schedule.

Here’s the complete list of “Mass Transit Task Force” appointees:

Rob Astorino, Westchester County Executive
Scott Baird, Nyack Chamber of Commerce
David Carlucci, Member, New York State Senate
Peter Casper, New York State Thruway Authority
Harriet Cornell, Chairwoman, Rockland County Legislature
Jan Degenshein, architect and planner, former Chairman, Rockland Business Association
Jonathan Drapkin, Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress
Tish Dubow, Mayor, Village of South Nyack
Kristine Edwards, New York State Department of Transportation
Drew Fixell, Mayor, Village of Tarrytown
Marsha Gordon, Business Council of Westchester County
Ellen Jaffee, Member, New York State Assembly
Thomas Madison, Executive Director, New York State Thruway Authority
Joan McDonald, Commissioner, New York State Department of Transportation
John Nonna, Board Member, Westchester League of Conservation Voters
Larry Salley, former Westchester County Transportation Commissioner
Veronica Vanterpool, Tri-State Transportation Campaign
Amy Paulin, Member, New York State Assembly
Karen Rae, Deputy Secretary to the Governor for Transportation
Tom Roach, Mayor, City of White Plains
Mark Roche, Arup Engineering
Christopher St. Lawrence, Supervisor Town of Ramapo
Brandon Sall, Board Member, New York State Thruway Authority
Mary Jane Shimsky, Member, Westchester Board of Legislators
Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Member, New York State Senate
C. Scott Vanderhoef, Rockland County Executive
Jen White, Mayor, Village of Nyack
Robert Yaro, President, Regional Plan Association