A local organization’s efforts to prevent the building of a tunnel across the Long Island Sound appears to have paid off.
“The day after our first press conference of the Coalition Against An Unsound Crossing, the Department of Transportation (DOT) acting commissioner Paul A. Karas, decided not to proceed with the plan for the tunnel, at this time,” said Bill Bleyer, the group’s vice president.
The meeting was held at the Shelter Rock Church on Cold Spring Harbor Road in Syosset on June 27, not too far from where the proposed entrances and exits would be north of the Seaford-Oyster Bay Expressway and Jericho Turnpike.
Matt Meng, a coalition member and East Norwich Civic Association president, said, “We came out punching very hard and the governor realized we are a very well organized machine dedicated to prevent that Unsound Crossing.”
Friends of the Bay Executive Director Heather Johnson is the president of the new coalition and Lisa Ott, president of the North Shore Land Alliance, is on the board.
“We had an underwriter who supported our hiring an executive director, Peter Janow, and also hired a PR company that did a wonderful job of letting the news media know about the press conference—which was a great success.”
Meng added, “All of New York State should be happy because they would all have been burdened with the taxes from this project. This would have urbanized Nassau County. This would have changed the face of the entire county. This would have made us another borough of NYC. And if you read between the lines of the DOT Acting Commissioner Karas’ statement, they are shelving the project at the moment, but it can rear its ugly head after the election.”
Jacqueline Bartley, Locust Valley Garden Club environmental chair, is one of those fighting the tunnel. At the June meeting of the club she created a diorama, as her entry into their flower show “My Long Island”, of how the proposed tunnel crossing would change the shoreline of the north shore.”
“I’m an environmentalist,” said Bartley. “This is very close to what the north shore will look like after the tunnel is built. There will be seven 10-story pipes for exhausting toxic air and clean air to enter the tunnel. There will be a power plant operating 24/7 to run the three tunnels.”
She included a dead palm plant in the diorama, to show the anticipated effect on plant life.
When she heard of the DOT’s decision she was ecstatic. “Happy days are here again. At first I couldn’t believe it, but I would not be surprised if we have to face the issue again.”
She said the coalition is already a 501c3 with a website and donation page, www.unsoundcrossing.org.
“We are getting pro bono attorneys, so Cuomo knew he was going to have a great battle ahead,” she said.
While the tunnel is being touted as an emergency exit from the Island, Meng said, “One tunnel will not do it. And an 18-mile long tunnel is not a good place to be in an emergency.”
He reiterated that while the tunnel itself will not be seen, the ventilation stacks will be, and will take away the suburban life style from Long Island.
“It will change life as we know it on the North Shore,” Meng said. “It will push urbanization further out east. And, it is proven, the more you build, the more they will come.”
The tunnel might still be a future battle as the concept keeps coming up, but Islanders are just as resilient in their response—so far.