The timing for the planned and now postponed opening of the Westchester-bound span of the new Tappan Zee Bridge was rushed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo so it would happen prior to this week's Democratic primary, the Republican candidate for governor said while calling for an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.
Do you think the opening of the new Tappan Zee Bridge's second span was rushed for political reasons?
Marc Molinaro, the Dutchess County executive, said at a news conference Sunday morning at the Tarrytown train station that "serious information has to come to my attention about the Tappan Zee Bridge, and the possible willful compromise of the public’s safety. It must be investigated.
“Our campaign is aware of at least two whistleblowers who have knowledge of the construction of the new bridge - and the deconstruction of the old one that have raised concerns regarding the construction timeline for the bridge.
"On the basis of their information, we believe the schedule was rushed and safety concerns set aside because Andrew Cuomo wanted the bridge he named after his father to be open before this Thursday’s Democratic Primary.
“These whistleblowers fear retribution from Gov. Cuomo and we believe they will only come forward if they are issued subpoenas. These subpoenas will give them the legal protection they need to speak out about things a vengeful governor doesn’t want known. This is a governor who knows how to punish people."
The opening of the second span of the new bridge, planned for overnight Friday into Saturday, was postponed after the New York State Thruway Authority said a piece of the old bridge became destabilized and could collapse.
"Given its proximity to the new completed span, out of an abundance of caution, motorists will remain in the current traffic configuration until a thorough evaluation by Tappan Zee Constructors is complete," Matthew Driscoll, the executive director of the thruway authority, said in a statement Saturday morning. "The second span is finished and ready to open to traffic as soon as the Thruway Authority is assured there is no risk to the new span."
- Related story: Bridgegate? Nixon, Molinaro Accuse Cuomo Of Rushing New TZB Span Opening Before Elections
Molinaro called for the NTSB to "make full use of its investigatory powers" in probing the entire new Tappan Zee Bridge project.
“This bridge project has been mired in secrecy since the day it began," Molinaro said. "Andrew Cuomo has refused to release the most basic information about the bridge’s construction, frustrating the news media so much that they have been forced to issue FOIL request after FOIL request to obtain what should have been simple answers to basic questions.
“Mr. Cuomo created advisory boards that never met. And five years later, we still don’t know how the bridge is being paid for. Who knows what other information needs to get out?
Citing the fact that more than 130,000 people travel on the bridge every day, Molinaro said "public safety must come first in every consideration of when it’s fully ready to open.
“God help this governor if what we are being told is true. And the truth will come out. Subpoenas have a way of making that happen.”
Cuomo hosted an elaborate ceremony Friday morning in which he touted the new bridge project as a mission accomplished. Among those attending the flamboyant festivities was former Secretary of State, U.S. Senator and First Lady Hillary Clinton of Chappaqua.
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