It is a commonly held belief among political leaders: Long after they have left office, they will be remembered in large part for legacy projects that outlast their political lives, if not their natural ones.In less than five years, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, a Democrat, has managed to move ahead on two such projects: a replacement for the Tappan Zee Bridge over the Hudson River between Rockland and Westchester Counties, and an overhaul of La Guardia Airport in Queens.Political analysts say the governor’s penchant for large-scale projects is unmatched among his recent predecessors, and is reminiscent of the administration of Nelson A. Rockefeller, the Republican who was elected to four terms as governor and whose lengthy construction resume included state office buildings and college campuses.“It’s in the sinews of Andrew Cuomo’s very way of viewing what the role of a governor is,” said Bruce N. Gyory, a political consultant who served in the administrations of three New York governors. “In that sense, we haven’t had a governor who had both the interest and the financial underpinnings to sustain a building agenda since Rockefeller.”
The interest and financial underpinnings to sustain the biggest building agenda since Rockefeller?
What "financial underpinnings"?
But Mr. Cuomo’s zeal for marquee construction projects has come with some consequences. It remains unclear how, exactly, the state will pay for the estimated $3.9 billion Tappan Zee replacement, and how high the tolls may climb for those who cross it.The state had hoped to use a $511 million loan from a clean water fund toward the Tappan Zee project, but the federal Environmental Protection Agency rejected most of that plan.As for the improvements at La Guardia, Mr. Cuomo has said the first phase of the ambitious plan, which involves replacing the central terminal, would cost $4 billion. In January, he proposed constructing a rail link that would connect the airport to the subway system in Queens; he was vague about where the estimated $450 million needed to build it would come from.Likewise, Delta Air Lines has not said how much it would spend to help achieve Mr. Cuomo’s vision of a “unified” La Guardia, but the company said this week that it was committed to redeveloping Terminals C and D in conjunction with the replacement of the central terminal.
Cuomo's legacy will be grandiose press conferences about grandiose building projects with grandiose price tags that eventually get paid by taxes, tolls, fees and levies against the not-so-grandiose in this state - the working and middles classes.