NEW YORK (AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled a far-reaching futuristic plan for the city that includes color LED illumination of bridges, completely automated toll booths and driver facial recognition cameras for tighter anti-terrorism security.
"So much in today's world is about the immediate, it's about the here and now, it's about Twitter, it's about Instagram and focusing on getting one day to the next," said the Democratic governor, who presented what he calls his New York Crossings Project at the New-York Historical Society on Wednesday. "The reality is, it's the long view that matters, and what are they going to say 10 years from now and 20 years from now and 30 years from now about what we accomplished while we were here?"
But in the immediate future, about 150 members of the National Guard and another 150 state troopers are to be stationed full time at entrances and exits of bridges and tunnels leading to the city, starting in January. Cuomo said recent terrorist explosions in New York and New Jersey have renewed the need to bolster such emergency measures.
Special heavy-duty trucks will be at the ready to barricade access to the crossings in emergencies.
The LED illumination work on eight bridges is to begin in January, when the first totally automated tolls will be installed in the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel from Brooklyn to Manhattan and the Queens-Midtown Tunnel connecting Manhattan with Queens. Within about a year, on bridges, too, cars that don't use the E-ZPass electronic payment system will be billed using photographed images of their license plates.
Seven city bridges are operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and the eighth, the George Washington Bridge, is operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. About 800,000 vehicles use MTA bridges and tunnels daily. The target date for completion of the lighting has not been set.
The Crossings Project includes another new element: safeguarding the tunnels from the kinds of devastating floods that followed Superstorm Sandy in 2012 with concrete barriers acting as temporary seals on both ends.
"From speeding up commutes and reducing emissions on key roadways with automatic tolling to bolstering resiliency on our bridges and tunnels and increasing security at key checkpoints," Cuomo said, "this transformational project will revolutionize transportation in New York and ensure that our state is built to lead for generations to come."
Funding for the changes is allocated as part of the MTA's $27 billion capital plan.