Sunday, February 18, 2018

New Hope For Cross Sound Link

New engineering report released.

Western: I-287/I-95 interchange to Route 135
Hybrid: I-287/I-95 interchange to Sunken Meadow/Sagtikos Parkway
Central: I-95 near Route 8 to Sunken Meadow/Sagtikos Parkway
Eastern: I-95 near I-91 to William Floyd Parkway

In recent months, NY Gov Andrew Cuomo pleasantly surprised countless people by publicly endorsing the addition of a fixed road crossing of Long Island Sound, to finally provide such somewhere to the northeast of the Throggs Neck Bridge.

This is the first major initiative for such a crossing since the 2007 "Cross Sound Link" proposal by developer Vincent Polimeni, for a highway tunnel connecting the eastern end of I-287 in Westchester County at the Rye/Port Chester line, to the existing stub of Route 135 in Nassau County..   As mitigating, the cut and cover transition to 135 would have expedited the construction of the lid with new park facilities in place before the completion of the underground highway underneath. According to the multi-million dollar engineering study that Polimeni organized, the project was estimated to cost $16 billion, and would have had a $25 toll.

2007 Vincent Polimeni Cross Link Tunnel

This Cross Sound Link would consist of a trio of drilled tunnel tubes, with 3 lanes in each of the 55' diameter outboard tubes, flanking a middle 38' diameter tube for a service-way. 

55' outer tubes each with single deck with 3 lanes flanking 38' center tube

It would have flanking connections with I-287 to the west of the I-287/I-95 interchange, perhaps with portals in the vicinity of South Ridge Road.

I-287/I-95 interchange with Cross Sound Tunnel connections

It would have passed under Grace Church Road and the shoreline, and the Port Chester Harbor south of Byram Point and north of Manursing Island and beneath the Sound roughly paralleling the New York-Connecticut line, before turning more easterly to veer entirely east of Cove Neck to land at Laurel Hollow, turning southwesterly and continue about 1 1/2 miles to connect with existing Route 135.

It was to be drilled deeply beneath the Sound and a portion of its land segments to thus significantly reduce impacts to the surface.

It had the support of then N.Y. Governor Spitzer, who took office, January 1, 2007, who was felled March 17, 2008, in a sex scandal involving his patronage as "Client #9" of a brothel apparently established to service the politically powerful - the "Emperor's Club", though notably no other such clients were publicly exposed, and at least one established news source would speculate openly that this expose was meant to derail the Cross Sound Link project, which I reported here.  Spitzer's successor, David Peterson, who served through 2010 supported it, and there was some talk of expanding it to accommodate adding a rail component, but it nonetheless stalled.

The last major study upon the idea of a new vehicular crossing of Long Island Sound was in 1979, initiated by then N.Y. Governor Hugh Carey.  It was confined to possible links between Long Island and the State of Connecticut, plus one to Rhode Island.

A- Port Jefferson Route 112 to Bridgeport CT I-95 near Route 8
B- Wading River (Shoreham) William Floyd Parkway to East Haven CT I-95
C- Riverhead extension from existing I-495 terminus to Gilford CT
D- Old Saybrook extended I-495 to East Marion I-95 near Route 9
E- Orient Point to Watch Hill, Rhode Island Route 78

The 1979 study neglected consideration of any new link further west; however such had been the focus of the previous planning direction, with the idea of connecting Long Island with Westchester County, with three options enumerated in a 1972 Environmental Impact Statement, and with this planning being truncated with N.Y. Governor Nelson Rockefeller June 1973 cancellation of the option found as having the greatest feasibility and benefit: the link between I-287 and Route 135. 

The two other options so considered were a connection from I-287 southward through Rye to Glen Cove Long Island, and another from New Rochelle to Sands Point, owing to matters of fit and feasibility potential with the existing road network, in other words the placement and importance of the area's higher capacity connecting roads.  All three options would include land approaches to connect with the existing such roads.

All three options would ultimately connect I-95 with I-495, each which extended outwards away from New York City, and connect with such by highways that served as circular routes: the Cross County Parkway and I-287 in Westchester County, and the Meadowbrook State Parkway and/or the Wantagh Parkway in Nassau County.  Of these, I-287 is the most important, and extends closest to the shoreline, with its terminus at its interchange with I-95.

I-287 is a major road that extends west through Westchester and beyond to cross the Hudson River via the Tappan Zee Bridge, multiplexing with I-87 to Suffren where I-287 turns southward into New Jersey and I-87 turns northward , an interstate highway with 6 or more lanes total, with its eastern terminus/interchange with I-95 within 300 feet of the shoreline.

The Cross County, Meadowbrook and Wantagh Parkways are important roads, though more locally regional then trans regional, with each confined within its respective county, and each disallowing commercial traffic, hence not serving trucks.

Both the Meadowbrook and the Wantagh are easily connectable to I-495, with an easement in place for the latter and an actual connection already existing for the former.

However, none are relatively accessible to the shoreline.

The Meadobrook and Wantagh would both require lengthy tunnels for the land approach, about 1.7 miles and  4.3 miles respectively, and another 5.3 to extend under the north south length of Hempstead Bay before reaching the mainline Sound. 

The Cross County meanwhile ends about 2 miles inland with its easternmost terminus at the Hutchinson River Parkway, and would require a drilled tunnel of more than 1 mile to connect with I-95 where there is already some space owing to the existing interchange, and where the route would continue towards the shore turning more southerly to pass through the former Sears site and then under the muddy inlet between the Sutton Manor neighborhood and the park.

Long Island's Route 135 is similarly stranded from the nearest shoreline.  Yet it is a more important road.

It has a terminus about 4 miles from the nearest point with the Oyster Bay shoreline; however it has an already assembled land corridor, which then extended about 3 miles northerly, though curbing northwesterly to require continuing about 2 or 3 miles along the Mill Neck peninsula, with this northwesterly portion of this reserved right of way since sold and thus with this strip cut back to about 1 1/2 miles).

Yet it is a modern 6 lane freeway essentially built to interstate highway specifications with 12 foot wide travel lanes with 10-12' right-hand shoulders and approximately 5 foot left-hand shoulders, and can hence accommodate trucks.  It extends southward connecting with I-495 (the Long Island Expressway), and with Route 27, which becomes a freeway about 3 miles east of its interchange with 135.   Unlike the parkways it does not need the same degree of reconstruction.

Hence, connecting I-287 with Route 135, with the latter likelier to thus be re-designated as I-287, is the best option.

Westchester County (mainland)
I-287/I-95 interchange with I-287 Sound Bridge route options

Nassau County (Long Island)
Sound Bridge approach route options

However this plan ran into serious opposition, particularly in Rye and in Bayville.

As a method of thwarting this link, the Bayville area would be re-designated as a nature preserve.

And years later, in 1991, so was the area immediately north of the Playland amusement park, where 3 out of 4 of the officially considered route options would have passed through, as the Edith Reed Nature Sanctuary.

In light of this history, the new for 2018 report adopts significant modifications to the land and shoreline area approaches as compared to those from previous studies..

This report explores three basic options from the mainland to Long Island:

"Western Alignment": Rye/Port Chester, Westchester County, NY I-287 to Oyster Bay Nassau County Route 135, which was planned to extend to the Wantagh Parkway which ends at Jones Beach.  Options of Bride, All Tunnel, and Bridge/Tunnel combo.

"Central Alignment": Bridgeport or Devon, Fairfield County CT Route 8 to Kings Park Suffolk County Sunken Meadow (Sagtikos) Parkway, extends south to Robert Moses State Park  Options of Bridge and Bridge/Tunnel combos for Bridgeport, and later for Devon.

"Eastern Alignment": I-91 to William Floyd Parkway (New Haven or Branford CT to Shorham LI).  Options of Bridge or Bridge/Tunnel combo.

It also gives preliminary to a "hybrid" alignment respectively combining the Western and Central Alignments'  mainland and Long Island connections, aka connecting I-287 with the Sagtikos Parkway.

Some key facts:

The Western and Central Alignment would have the highest revenue generation potential: 86,400 and 87,600 vehicles daily versus 55,500 for a New Haven area crossing.

The predicted constructions costs are:

- Western- $8.49 to $55.4b:
$8.49b bridge,
$33.4b tunnel with single 58' tube with 2 lanes upon 2 decks,
$55.4 tunnel with twin 58' tubes with 3 lanes upon a single deck,
$43.5b bridge/tunnel combo with twin 58' tubs each with 3 lanes upon a single deck.

- Central- $13 to $31b: 
$16.5B for a bridge (Bridgeport);
$22.7b for a bridge/tunnel combo (Bridgeport);
$16.5b bridge (Devon);
$31.2b bridge/tunnel combo to Devon;

- Eastern- $15.7b to $32b:
$15.7b bridge to New Haven,
$32b bridge/tunnel combo to New Haven,
$15b bridge to Bradford,
$28b bridge/tunnel combo to Bradford.

The tunnel configurations would all have a 58' bore, either proving 2 lanes in each direction with two levels in a single tube, or 3 per direction each with a pair of tubes.

All of the bridge/tunnel combinations indicated would have a pair of 58' bores each with 3 lanes upon a single deck.

The only scenario given cost figures for a single 58' tube with 2 lanes each upon 2 decks is such an option for the Western alignment (I-287).

No figures are given for an all tunnel option for either the Central or Eastern Alignment.

 All of the alignments, Western, Central and Eastern would connect I-95, which runs paralleling the northern shoreline of the Sound, and essentially the major freeways which have interchanges with I-05 and which extend inland, with the north-south freeways in Long Island, each of which have interchanges with I-495 (the Long Island Expressway).  Of these connections north of the Sound, the interchange with I-287 is the closest to the shoreline.  To the south of Sound, the north south freeways extending closest to the shoreline are the Sagtikos Parkway and the William Floyd Parkway- each as "parkway" thus requiring some degree of reconstruction to accommodate commercial traffic such as large trucks, at least for their segment extending to their respective interchanges with the LIE.  Route 135, the north south freeway on Long Island that the Western Alignment would connect with I-287 is already an interstate specification highway that accommodates such commercial traffic and would be re designated as a part of I-287.  But it only extends north to about 3 miles from the shoreline, thus necessitating a lengthier land extension that is seen as most politically feasible as a tunnel.

Regarding each of the three main alignments, Western, Central and Eastern:


This is the one that is most widely believed which would receive the greatest traffic use, an estimated 86K vehicles daily with a $20 toll or 113k with a $7.50 toll) connecting the existing I-287 terminus at its interchange with I-95, with Long Island Route 135, which would in turn be re-designated as a continuation of I-287.

-  the basic alignment that I have long advocated for the Westchester County side, that avoids the Playland area and skirts the northern edge of Rye.  In other words, it abandons the previous route options that would turn to the south to go through the area just north of Playland (through what has since been designated the Edith Nature Preserve- showing such only as a stub), which were previous options W1, W2 and W3, but rather confines itself to essentially the route through Port Chester Harbor previously known as option W4.

- However, for the Long Island side, it adopts a new alignment to the east of the previously considered options that went through Bayville, though not as far east as that shown in the 2007 Polemeni tunnel proposal that went beneath Laurel Hollow.  This new alignment which would run roughly parallel to Steamboat Road, would run under Oyster Bay to and past Center Island Peninsula and then Turtle Cove before entering the Sound.  This routing would thus clip a corner of the Sound portion of Connecticut, but would be ideally located to permit adding a rail connection from the LIRR rail terminus near the Oyster Bay Marine Center.

- Though including the option of a Sound Crossing via a bridge, this latest study report includes the options of a tunnel as well as a combination bridge - tunnel that would cross the Sound mainly via a bridge, but place the land approaches as well as the shoreline crossing within tunnel, with transition points via newly created off shore islands.

I have long favored the idea of this Westchester approach routing, as well as the idea of a combo bridge-tunnel with the shoreline approach areas within tunnel where the need for mitigation is the greatest.

For the Western alignment, the report recommends against an all bridge option [$8.49b] as politically infeasible, and recommends further study of the options of a bridge/tunnel combo ($43.5b) and and all tunnel ($55.4) options.


With regards for the Central Alignment connecting Connecticut at Bridgeport or Devon with Long Island's Sagtikos Parkway, which according to this report would receive the greatest traffic demand at 87.6K daily with a $20 toll and 108K with a $7.50 toll).

It gives an option for Bridgeport connecting to I-95, which parallels the shoreline, about a mile from the I-95 interchange with the southern terminus of the nearest freeway that extends inland, Route 8, in order to utilize existing more open space via the right of way of an existing surface road through a largely industrial area, versus a straight-line to Route 8 which would go through the University of Bridgeport and then through Shoreline Park.   This routing would have traffic to and from the bridge with I-95 and provide access to and from Route 8 essentially by adding at least one additional lane to I-95 to the interchange with Route 8.  For this routing the report gives all bridge and bridge/tunnel options.

It gives an option for Devon, immediately to northeast of Bridgeport, with a landing that would transverse a residential area to connect with the existing Devon interchange with I-95, and gives all bridge and bridge/tunnel combination options.

For the Central alignment the report recommends further study of the all bridge ($16.5b) and the bridge/tunnel combo ($22.7b) for Bridgeport and the bridge/tunnel combo ($31.2b) for Devon.

This is the one, which would connect I-95 in Connecticut with the William Floyd Parkway in Long Island.

The connection with I-95 would be in the vicinity of its interchanges with I-91, which extends north, and with Route 34, which points to the west, that was long planned to eventually extend west to the Bear Mountain Bridge and hence the NY Route 17 Quickway (which is being re-designated as I-86), but which has been stymied by a horrifically misguided plan to block its underground extension beneath the Yale area "Air Rights" garage (which had been designed to accommodate this freeway's extension underground) for an ill advised real estate development scheme to further truncate this freeway and channel its traffic loads upon its existing parallel service roads, altogether overlooking the benefits of at least continuing this freeway a few additional blocks beneath any such new buildings in order to better disperse its traffic.

As such, this crossing could serve to extend I-91 to and into Long Island, with the William Floyd Parkway reconstructed as such at least to its interchange with the I-495 Long Island Expressway.
I do not understand the consideration of either the Devon nor Branford options.  Both the Bridgeport and New Haven alignment would each respectively work better with reduced costs.  IMHO either would be fine as bridges.  I would though explore the idea - not mentioned in the report - of an above ground or shallow "tunnel" (enclosed roadway) for the approach om Bridgeport between the bridge and near I-95.  That area is industrial and could conceivably adopt to perhaps even such an enclosed roadway of the existing grade of 113 (Lorship Boulevard) between perhaps from Access to Honeywell Roads, with the adjacent areas built up with landfill and or even new real estate development for what would be a relatively low cost tunnel segment involving no new excavation (or limited excavation with a shallow tunnel).

The report recommends against a Western All bridge option ($8.49b), and all of the Eastern Alignment options ($15.7b and $32b respectively for bridge and bridge/tunnel options with New Haven, and $15b and $28b bridge and bridge/tunnel options with Bradford.

It recommends further study of the Western Alignment options of an all tunnel ($55.4b for a 3x3 tunnel) and bridge/tunnel combo ( $43.5b), and of the Central Alignment with Bridgeport as a Bridge ($16.5b), Bridge/Tunnel combination ($22.7b), and with Devon as a bridge/tunnel combo ($31.2b).

The recommendation are basically sound, though there are clearly outstanding issues that would further this process, as well as provide a direction for further refinement.

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