ROCKLAND: Rockland Realtor Matthew Rand Appointed to TZ Toll Task Force
John Jordan | November 2015
NEW CITY—Matthew Rand, managing principal of Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty based here, has been appointed to a newly formed task force to advise the New York State Thruway Authority on tolls for the new Tappan Zee Bridge (a.k.a. the New NY Bridge).
New York State Thruway Authority Executive Director Robert Megna announced Rand’s appointment on Nov. 9 along with Gerald D. Jennings, former Mayor of the City of Albany; Joan McDonald, former commissioner of the New York State Department of Transportation; Lawrence C. Salley, chairman of the White Plains Housing Authority and former commissioner of the Westchester County Department of Transportation; William C. Thompson, Jr., former New York City Comptroller and the current chief administrative officer and senior managing director of Siebert Brandford Shank and Co. to serve on the task force as well. The Task Force will be co-chaired by the Thruway Authority Executive Director Megna and state Department of Transportation Commissioner Matthew Driscoll.
The Toll Advisory Task Force will review toll rates, potential commuter discount options, a resident discount program and commercial vehicle rates to secure additional funding for the bridge. The Thruway Authority’s Megna announced that there would be no toll adjustments along the system, including the Tappan Zee Bridge, in 2016. He said the New NY Bridge Toll Advisory Task Force will report its recommendations in mid-2016.
“Given our success in balancing the Thruway’s budget and the infusion of additional funding from Governor (Andrew) Cuomo, we have alleviated the need to implement a toll increase for the remainder of 2015 and for all of 2016,” said Thruway Authority Executive Director Megna. “The New NY Bridge project has made tremendous progress, which anyone who drives over the Tappan Zee can see first-hand, and we will continue to work to find ways to keep tolls as low as possible for commuters.”
Rand, in an interview with Real Estate In-Depth, said he has been passionate about the need for a new span for some time and was honored to be selected as a member of the task force.
Noting that the growth in Rockland and Orange counties has been due in large part to the existing span, he said that economic growth in both counties “has been limited by the flaws in the bridge.” He said that the new bridge will help improve traffic and alleviate other negative impacts the aging span has had over the years.
He added that the new span allows the region “to be interconnected in the way that it truly is. Rockland, Orange, Westchester and Putnam and the Hudson Valley has much more of a flow back-and-forth than it ever has before and I think right now the (existing) bridge creates a block that makes that flow not as smooth and easy and open as it needs to be. When the new bridge opens and is a free-flowing road connecting these communities I think it will be a big economic boom on both sides (of the river).”
When asked about the possible tolls on the new span, Rand said simply that whatever the toll price, “We do not want the tolls to be the impediment for economic growth.”
He said that while the tolls will have to be formulated as a means to help fund the construction of the span, Rand stressed that the tolls cannot be too high to blunt what he believes will be the tremendous economic stimulus the new bridge will provide once operational.
A high toll would serve as the new psychological impediment to not using the bridge or not moving a business or family to the west side of the Hudson, he stressed.
Rand is also managing partner of Rand Commercial Services and Hudson United Home Services and previously served on the boards of the American Red Cross in Greater New York and the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation and currently serves on the Board of Directors of People to People.
This is not his first appointment to public service in New York State government. Governor Cuomo recently appointed Rand to the New York State Board of Real Property Tax Services, where he serves as its chairman. In 2005, Rand received the Rockland Economic Development Corporation’s “Forty under Forty” award. He served as the president of the former Rockland County Board of Realtors in 2004. He is currently actively involved with the New York State Association of Realtors and the local Realtor Associations and multiple listing services, including the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors and HGMLS, as well as Realtor and MLS associations in Northern New Jersey.
New Bridge Milestones
The new Tappan Zee Bridge project continues to have a significant economic impact in the lower Hudson Valley region and New York State. More than 5,000 people have worked on the project to date, and Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC has used 622 subcontractors and suppliers based in New York State. The project has also had an unprecedented community outreach plan that has resulted in more than 700 community meetings, educational outreach to more than 25,000 students and a community benefits program that has approved $9.6 million in grants to local residents and communities most impacted by the construction.
Megna also updated the Board on the overall construction progress on the bridge, which remains on target to open in 2018 at a total cost of $3.98 billion. He did report that one span of the two-span bridge, originally scheduled to open in December 2016, will open instead in either the spring or summer of 2017.
Two major milestones were marked in recent weeks with the steel girder assemblies reaching the one mile point from the Rockland shoreline and the laying of the first sections of concrete road deck panels as the New NY Bridge enters the next building phase with a majority of construction rising above the Hudson River.
To date 55% of concrete piers are completed; 46% of steel girders have been fabricated; 34% of the deck panels have been fabricated; 27% of girder assemblies placed; and 13% of the main towers poured.