Governor Cuomo has worked with the federal government to “fast track” the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement environmental review. Planning will speed along and the project could be ready for groundbreaking by fall 2012. No funding sources have been secured. Rockland County and Westchester County residents were shocked to learn that the originally planned-for mass transit component of the project was dropped from the expedited environment review. Ten years of planning for cross-Hudson rail or bus rapid transit evaporated in a matter of days. Instead, the bridge will contain 8 full lanes of traffic, shoulders, emergency lanes and one pedestrian corridor comprising a bridge that is roughly 200 feet wide on two separate spans. . . There are a lot of angry New Yorkers these days.
What is absent from the current conversation and in calls for including transit on the new span are suggestions for either expanding existing rail service, speeding up existing service, creating new rail service west-of-Hudson, or expanding existing ferry service, most notably the Haverstraw-Ossining Ferry. The ferry has been operating since 2000, whisking hundreds of passengers each day across the wide Haverstraw Bay to the Ossining MetroNorth railroad station. There, passengers switch to a Grand Central-bound train. The entire trip to Grand Central Terminal on 42nd Street in Manhattan, including the ferry ride, clocks in at under one hour. This is the fastest way to midtown from the northern half of Rockland County and parts of southeastern Orange County.
One of the cheapest and quickly-implemented options for expanded transit from Rockland is expanding the Haverstraw-Ossining Ferry route to accommodate midday, late-night, and weekend riders. Better bus connections from Ossining to White Plains and other job centers in Westchester County may prove a boost to ridership on the ferry service. Outside of morning and evening rush hours, the ferry could run every 90 minutes to meet an express train to Grand Central. This would not only boost property values in Haverstraw and Ossining, but would solve part of the problem that a transit-less Tappan Zee Bridge would create.
I, personally, have dreamed for the opportunity to reach Haverstraw from New York and vice versa during late-night hours and on weekends. An afternoon or evening run on Sundays would benefit the hundreds of student-age and young adult travelers that visit Rockland parents on weekends. Those Rocklanders looking for a day in the City would likely opt to take the ferry service as it cuts out costly tolls, gasoline costs, parking costs, and the headache of battling traffic. I have noted previously on HaverstrawLife that there is a market for attracting NYC and Westchester residents to Haverstraw’s emerging culinary, cultural, recreation, and arts scene. Limited ferry service has been an impediment to this opportunity. NYC residents are always looking for unique day trips into the Hudson Valley. With expanded ferry service, Haverstraw could become one of the major hiking meccas within close proximity of Manhattan. The opportunities here are limitless. Just expand the ferry service, and do it soon.
Contact your New York State representatives to demand better cross-Hudson ferry service from Rockland County:
Nanuet, NY 10954
New City, NY 10956
New Windsor, NY 12553
Pearl River, NY 10965