ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — New York Assembly Republicans are calling for a federal investigation into the structural integrity of the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge. The push for an investigation follows a Times Union report that alleged structural problems and a cover-up that put completing the project ahead of safety.
A letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General, signed by all 43 members of the Republican Conference, requests an immediate investigation into the bridge’s safety and the conduct of state officials, private contractors, and others involved in the bridge’s completion.
One of the signatories, Assemblyman Chris Tague, called for an immediate investigation into the bridge’s structural integrity. Tague also said that if an investigation finds Governor Cuomo was involved in rushing the project, it is: “one more reason among several for him to be removed from office as soon as possible.”
“We need an immediate investigation into the structural soundness of this bridge for the sake of public safety. If it’s found the governor had a hand in rushing this project, that’s just one more reason among several for him to be removed from office as soon as possible, whether through resignation or impeachment.”Assemblyman Chris Tague (R,C,I-Schoharie)
A previous investigation into the bridge has also been called into question by lawmakers. The investigation in question was conducted in 2017 by the New York State Attorney General. That investigation focused on the structural integrity of the bolts used on the bridge and the bridge’s safety certifications. The 2017 investigation led to the bridge’s construction company, Tappan Zee Constructors, paying a $2 million settlement to the state and relevant records being sealed from the public.
Lawmakers are now questioning the integrity of that investigation, citing: “The slow movement of the inquiry, the unusually-low financial settlement reached, the political considerations at play in finishing the project as quickly as possible and the failure to publicly release the conclusions of the state’s findings all raise serious concerns about the integrity of the investigation.”
Assemblyman Dave McDonough suggests failing to address the bridge’s issues and withholding records of the previous investigation means that the state officials who sanctioned cutting corners were asking for trouble:
“Experts suggest the bridge is likely to deteriorate faster as more bolts break. State officials have been aware of the deficiencies for years and have failed to act on it, neglecting to publicly release the conclusions of the state’s findings and essentially waiting for a disaster to occur. I have written to the U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General to further investigate the defections of the bridge and the perfunctory manner in which it was constructed.”Assemblyman Dave McDonough (R,C,I-Merrick)
On Tuesday, the New York State Inspector General Letizia Tagliafierro responded to the report. She said her office, in conjunction with the Thruway Authority and the New York State Attorney General’s Office, conducted a “thorough” investigation into the bolt issue on the bridge.
The allegations of yet another cover-up come at a time when Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose father the former Tappan Zee Bridge was named after, is under pressure following accusations of sexual harassment, under-reporting of nursing home deaths, and bullying other elected officials.
Located 20 miles north of New York City, the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, which replaced the outdated Tappan Zee bridge, spans over three miles and cost close to $4 billion.
You can see the full letter signed by the Assembly Republicans below: