Can a Fake Show Produce a Real Bridge?
Bridges and bridge construction have certainly gotten their fair share of attention lately. Some of this attention on bridges may be part due to the Netflix exclusive series, House of Cards. (Spoiler alert!) In its second season, the show features Congressman turned Vice President Frank Underwood, played to perfection by Kevin Spacey, as a master manipulator of our political system.
A key to House of Card’s season 2’s story arc is that Vice President Underwood and the Chinese government are working frantically to approve an internationally funded project to build a bridge from Port Jefferson to Connecticut.
In reality, the Long Island Sound Link is a proposed bridge or tunnel that would connect Long Island to Westchester, New York or Connecticut across the Long Island Sound. The most recent proposal involves a tunnel between Rye, New York, and Oyster Bay, Long Island.
Why would this bridge or tunnel be of such great interest to so many? A bridge or tunnel to the center of the island would serve to make most of the island more accessible, which, in turn, would reduce the travel time of certain routes not by minutes but by hours! On the downside, is the expense of such a bridge, as costs would be extreme, and there would likely be strong adverse environmental impacts as well.
The idea for this type of project is not a new one, as the need to make the island more accessible was first proposed over half a century ago in 1954. The Seaford-Oyster Bay Expressway (NY 135) was first proposed by master builder Robert Moses, who planned for ferries to connect Oyster Bay on Nassau County’s North Shore with Stamford, Connecticut, twelve miles across Long Island Sound. Just three years later, the idea for an actual bridge across Long Island Sound was suggested connecting Oyster Bay with the Rye-Port Chester area of Westchester County.
Moses was dedicated to the idea of turning this bridge into a reality. He worked tirelessly on his plans, which were initially supported by then Governor Rockefeller. While Governor Rockefeller was an initially supporter, the plans for the bridge were cancelled on June 20, 1973.
Now, let’s jump forward almost 3 decades.
In February 2000, a poll conducted by Newsday and News 12-Long Island found that a eye-opening 63% of Long Island residents were, in fact, in favor of a bridge between Suffolk County and Connecticut. No way around it, this project is one that people have wanted for decades.
In January 2008, this project reentered public discussion when Vincent Polimeni proposed building a privately financed, tolled tunnel between Oyster Bay on Long Island and Rye in Westchester County, featuring two tubes carrying three lanes of traffic each and a third tube for maintenance and emergency access. This new deal would connect Route 135 (Seaford-Oyster Bay Expressway) on Long Island to Interstate 287 in Westchester County. The cost of this project would be substantial at $10 billion dollars, and the expected year of completion would be 2025, at the earliest. The project would be massive in other ways as well. If completed, this tunnel project would create the world’s longest highway tunnel at 16 to 18 miles (26 to 29 km).
The Long Island Association, the region’s biggest business group, is once again floating the idea of a cross-Long Island Sound connection linking Nassau and Suffolk counties to Connecticut, without the need to board a boat or detour through any of New York City’s boroughs. This is an idea that just won’t go away. Due to a strong
public demand, we may actually someday see this exciting project materialize.