July 19, 2017

With MTA Undergoing “Summer Of Hell,” Cuomo Focused On $350 Million Bridge Lighting Scheme

New York City is melting down over Governor Andrew Cuomo’s self-styled “summer of hell.” Yet a Politico story today shows that far from being laser focused on fixing these very harmful transit problems, Governor Cuomo and MTA are focused on decorative bridge lightings. Back in January, Governor Cuomo was bragging about the project to light up New York bridges:

“Before a spring meltdown turned into a full-on ‘summer of hell’ for the city’s subways, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was proudly promoting a project to outfit the region’s bridges with pulsating, multi-colored LED lights that could provide choreographed light shows in concert with the city’s skyscrapers. ‘So, literally, you’ll have bridges all across the New York City area that are choreographed — nothing like this has been done on the planet,’ Cuomo told reporters in January.”

Yet now he’s facing a very different environment, and with some estimates pegging the scheme’s cost at $350 million, New Yorkers are growing angry at Governor Cuomo’s misplaced priorities:

“Now, amid daily reports of infrastructure failures and the governor’s sliding poll numbers, the Cuomo administration will not even say how much the lighting scheme will cost — except to dispute early, internal estimates it could cost more than $350 million — or where that money will come from.”

Unfortunately for the governor, his latest misstep has drawn the negative attention of transit experts and government watchdog groups. One transit expert said that with all the problems the transit system is facing related to safety and repair, Governor Cuomo’s project should “fall to the bottom of a long list of priorities.” In more colorful language, a government watchdog group said that literally burning $300 million in a giant bonfire would be a better idea than Governor Cuomo’s pet bridge light project.

Governor Cuomo’s embarrassing misstep has also drawn the attention of his hated rival, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-NY). Speaking about the bridge lights project, Mayor de Blasio slammed Governor Cuomo’s focus on “cosmetic fixes” over “keeping the system running”:

“Asked if he thought the governor was placing too much of a focus on cosmetic fixes instead of addressing the basic inner workings to keep the system running, de Blasio said, ‘yes.’ ‘We have to recognize that those things are really good, but they’re good if the basics of the system are working, and obviously they’re not,’ de Blasio said. ‘I would never take away from efforts to improve the quality of life once you’re on a subway, but much more important is, does that subway ever show up, does it get to where you’re trying to go.’”

Governor Cuomo’s MTA catastrophe has the governor hobbling toward his re-election campaign, with many New York Democrats speculating that he could also be ripe for a primary challenge too. No matter what happens though, what’s completely clear is that Governor Cuomo’s growing unpopularity means he’s not the national contender he once was.