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Cranberry Hole Road Bridge in Limbo

Thu, 05/23/2024 - 12:20


Though the matter might appear to be far from a local concern, earlier this year, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority was rebuffed after it demanded about $750,000 a year from the organizers of the New York City Marathon to make up for what it said was lost tolls when it diverts traffic from the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge for the race start. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who names five members, including the chairman, to the M.T.A. board of directors, squelched the runners’ toll in April. But near the other end of the Island, the Cranberry Hole Road bridge in Amagansett has been closed for repairs for a year. And, from appearances, the M.T.A. is in no hurry to reopen it.

The M.T.A. owns the Long Island Rail Road, which says it owns the Cranberry Hole Road bridge. Earlier this year, an inspection crew spent several days taking measurements with which a new bridge would be designed, under the State Department of Transportation management. Nothing will happen for the time being, while the plan and funding are being finalized. If the M.T.A. is going to be responsible, the new bridge could take quite a while longer, in part, because the agency’s finances suffered a post-pandemic commuter decline from which it has only slowly recovered.

After facing a $1 billion shortfall at the beginning of the year, the M.T.A. is now in a better position, according to New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. Revenue from the new congestion pricing fee, as much as $1 billion annually, and another billion or so from the Payroll Mobility Tax on large New York City employers, is projected to help balance the M.T.A.’s daily operations through 2027. But for the Cranberry Hole Road bridge, a solution has not come into focus. Much of the congestion pricing money goes underground, to long-planned subway projects; the Long Island Rail Road’s cut of the windfall is just 10 percent. Then there is litigation; a slew of lawsuits put on the brakes and may result in the M.T.A.’s cutting planned work by more than half.

This is the final year of the M.T.A.’s most-recent capital plan. We expect that the Cranberry Hole Road bridge will be among the projects listed, but we do not believe that we will be passing over it any time soon.

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