Governor Kathy Hochul wants officials to study widening the Outerbridge Crossing connecting Staten Island to New Jersey to improve a “commuter headache” caused by congestion on the 93-year-old span.
“As it is currently built, the Outerbridge Crossing’s narrow lanes and inadequate traffic flow are a frequent commuter headache,” Hochul said in a statement released late Monday, Dec. 20. “With this legislation we hope to expedite the process of dramatically improving quality of life and enhancing safety for commuters from New York and New Jersey alike.”
The bill, sponsored by Republican Staten Island state legislators Andrew Lanza in the State Senate and Michael Reilly in the Assembly, orders the Port Authority to find out which adjacent properties the bi-state agency would have to seize in order to to widen the bridge.
“Assemblyman Reilly and I look forward to working with Governor Hochul, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and all stakeholders to advance this analysis to a shovel-ready project,” said Lanza in a statement.
The 1928 span carries some 30 million vehicles a year, but suffers from frequent congestion for people crossing state lines, according to Hochul.
“The Outerbridge Crossing is used by some 30 million vehicles a year and is a large part of daily life for New Yorkers on the south shore of Staten Island, as well as the commuters from New Jersey who contribute so much to our state’s economy,” she said.
But advocates quickly sounded the alarm about the proposal citing the long-established phenomenon of induced demand, whereby adding more road space has routinely encouraged more people to drive.
One transit booster slammed the governor’s decision, saying more drivers will exacerbate climate change.
“The bottom line is that if you build it they will come,” said Danny Pearlstein of Riders Alliance. “In this case that means more collisions, more pollution, and carbon emissions at a time when Staten Islanders and New Yorkers as a whole are under grave threat of rising seas and climate change.”
“The way to make roads safer is to slow traffic down, not to increase it,” he said.
The governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request seeking further comment.