Cuomo’s Bridge: Late and Over Budget
New Yorkers deserve all the facts about how many years late and how much over budget the Cuomo Bridge will be.
by Dan Smith
“It is on time and it is on budget! . . .” loudly proclaimed Governor Andrew Cuomo last August, as he stood atop the Mario Cuomo Bridge—the Hudson River crossing which is to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge.
However, it turns out that neither of the Governor’s statements were true, even at the time.
It is quite late and quite over budget. And the situation is growing worse by the day.
While some of Cuomo’s media friends were happy to grant Cuomo his undue victory, some basic fact checking shows that it’s no victory at all—not for Governor Cuomo and certainly not for New Yorkers.
It was just a bunch of lies. Records show that the Cuomo bridge was originally slated to be completed by February 2017 at a cost of $3.9 billion dollars. While a portion of the bridge has indeed opened, even today the bridge is far from complete. The August announcement demonstrated the missed February deadline for completion. And Poltico has reported that contractors are submitting claims for overtime and other cost overruns which will put the project at least hundreds of millions of dollars over budget.
But no one is certain how long the project completion will be delayed, nor by how much the budget has been blown. That’s because the Cuomo administration has been opaque about costs and has even refused Freedom of Information requests for details about his people’s activities to date.
Realistically, few public projects are completed on time or on budget. That’s the way our system works. Politicians and bureaucrats almost never pay a price for making unattainable budgets and timelines. So, without a penalty for lying, politicians say whatever they wish in order to get projects approved.
But Cuomo’s claim goes well beyond a faulty projection. His statement was demonstrably false the moment he said it.
That’s incredibly brazen.
Cuomo probably thought he could risk the bold-faced lie. A portion of the bridge was opening. And at the time of that declaration, he was on the heels of a political victory, having convinced the state legislature to rename the bridge after his late father, former governor Mario Cuomo. That decision has since been met with public backlash and a bill to have the name revert to the prior name—the Tappan Zee Bridge.
So perhaps New Yorkers are wising up to Cuomo’s game. Perhaps voters will hold a lying politician accountable after he squandered taxpayer money and trust.
Given the delay which will likely end up being close to two years, and given the cost overruns which some estimates put in the billions of dollars, perhaps Andrew Cuomo will tackle the issue honestly as he seeks reelection this autumn.
It won’t happen unless New Yorkers and the media demand honesty and transparency from their governor. Time and again, he has done neither without incredible amounts of public pressure.