HIGHLAND — A New York State Budget proposal to merge the New York State Bridge Authority with the state Thruway Authority is receiving strong opposition from state lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, as well as community groups and residents concerned by the implications a merger might have on the Hudson Valley.
A news conference organized by Assemblymember Jonathan Jacobson, where Southern Region President Anthony Adamo voiced our union’s opposition to the proposed merger, drew both Republican and Democratic legislators, a representative from the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce and members of the Bridge Authority Board of Trustees. Concerns expressed ranged from the impact on the local economy due to expected toll increases to worries about the maintenance of the five bridges the Bridge Authority oversees, all of which have the highest safety ratings.
“The proposed plan is nothing more than a solution in search of a problem,” said Jacobson, noting that the Bridge Authority is a self-sustaining entity that has not been reliant on the state for financial assistance.
Adamo said the five Hudson River crossings the Bridge Authority oversees aren’t just bridges, but essential local roadways that many residents use daily.
“These bridges keep the Hudson Valley connected,” said Adamo. “The reason why the they have been well-maintained and well-operated for so long is because of the experienced workers, who are laser-focused on keeping these five historic bridges both safe and affordable. Turning these bridges over to an authority responsible for countless lane miles across the state makes it seem inevitable that the maintenance and affordability of these five Hudson River crossings will take a backseat to other projects.”
The proposed merger has received an outcry of opposition from residents reading about it on social media, with many people expressing concerns about affordability for commuters living paycheck to paycheck, students crossing bridges each day to community colleges, tourists visiting both sides of the Hudson River and local businesses using the bridges for business.
The Bridge Authority oversees the Bear Mountain Bridge, Newburgh-Beacon Bridge, Mid-Hudson Bridge, Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge, and Rip Van Winkle Bridge. The Newburgh-Beacon Bridge is part of Interstate 84, a major commerce route for trucking companies and a major source of toll revenue that has allowed the Bridge Authority to remain self-sustaining.