In his annual state of the state address, Gov. Andrew Cuomo once again pressed for the construction of a long-debated tunnel that would connect Long Island to either Westchester County or Connecticut.
On Wednesday, Jan. 3, Cuomo, a Democrat, said the state Department of Transportation, DOT, completed a final analysis that suggests building a tunnel connecting Long Island to Westchester would be “feasible” and could significantly lower the amount of traffic coming from Long Island.
“It would be underwater,” Cuomo said. “It would be invisible. It would reduce traffic on the impossibly congested Long Island Expressway and would offer significant potential private investment.”
According to the DOT’s study, an 18-mile tunnel connecting either the city of Rye or the village of Port Chester to Long Island would cost approximately between $31.5 and $55.4 billion.
In 2016, Gov. Cuomo secured $5 million for the DOT to test the plan’s feasibility.
The idea of building a link between Long Island to either Westchester or Connecticut dates back to the 1930s. The proposal grew in popularity in the 1960s when master builder Robert Moses and former Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, a Republican, pursued the idea.
After facing significant opposition from both local and state-elected officials in Westchester and Long Island, the planned Rye-Oyster Bay bridge never materialized.
In recent history, city officials and residents have strongly opposed any plan to build a tunnel to Rye as the idea has bubbled up from time to time.
In 2016, in his state of the city address, former Rye City Mayor Joe Sack, a Republican, questioned the feasibility of building the tunnel. He said he didn’t believe the DOT study would reveal that constructing a tunnel or bridge would be a good plan, and pledged to “topple the tunnel.”
Newly elected Mayor Josh Cohn, a Democrat, is expected to deliver the mayor’s annual message on Wednesday, Jan. 10, in which he’ll have the opportunity to address Cuomo’s proposal.
As of press time, Gov. Cuomo’s office has not specified any next steps the administration would take to pursue the tunnel.