Environment and transportation at forefront of Cuomo’s 2020 agenda

Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered his 2020 State of the State address Wednesday in which he said he plans to continue building transit infrastructure and subsequently driving FDR’s 1932 Packard over bridges. (Photo by Mark Hallum)

When it comes to the modern adage that you cannot have a strong economy and protect the environment, Governor Andrew Cuomo has one word: “Baloney.”

That was the expression Cuomo used at the 2020 State of the State address Wednesday.

As part of the Restore Mother Nature Bond Act, Cuomo plans to pump $3 billion into resiliency efforts not just in the wilder portions of the state, but aimed the the city as well.

Restoring oyster beds in New York Harbor is something Cuomo claimed could filter toxic materials out of the water in three day cycles.

“Nothing can be further from the truth. The economy of tomorrow is the green economy,” Cuomo said “This year, let’s go big with an ambitious expansion of electric vehicles and attract the growing industry. It’s a win-win for our environment and for our economy. To lead the nation, we need a national leader. I will name Stanley Whittingham, Binghampton professor and recently-named Nobel laureate, to give us the most aggressive roadmap into the future.”

Also on Cuomo’s agenda are major changes to transportation.

As announced on Monday, Cuomo plans to expand Penn Stations capacity by up to 100 percent with the completion of the Moynihan Train Hall and the acquisition of land to the south for more Long Island Rail Road service.

This will increase the capacity of Penn by 175,000 more commuters per day.

Also expected in 2020; the completion of the mega project that is East Side Access.

New tunnels will link the Sunnyside Yards to a new terminal dug deep beneath Grand Central in an $11.1 billion project to carry 162,000 riders in and out of Manhattan daily.

Not backing down on his proposal released Tuesday, Cuomo switched gears from projects to banning convicted sex offenders from mass transit, a concept of questionable legal standing with the city’s subways being public space.

“Let’s keep our straphangers safe by banning repeat sex offenders from the MTA,” Cuomo said. “Subway cars should not be feeding grounds for predators. We want people to take mass transit and we’re right in that desire. We’re improving mass transit to make it work. But you have to be able to commute to work without being harassed, without being molested and without being groped. That is just common sense.

Violators of the ban could face charges of transit trespass, which is a grade A misdemeanor. If a person is accused of a sex crime on mass transit, a judge may order temporary restraint against the individual to ride the subways and buses, as proposed by the governor.

Cuomo glossed over initiatives for more affordable housing, offering little detail as to a strategy to combat the housing crisis or homelessness across the state.

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