Officials, activists renew push to end LI Sound tunnel proposal

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OYSTER BAY -

Officials and activists are making a push to end a proposed plan for a Long Island Sound crossing from Oyster Bay to Westchester.    

Elected officials and community activists gathered at the boat launching ramps in Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park Thursday morning to say they don't want a bridge or tunnel across the Sound. They say it will create more traffic, more pollution and a low quality of life.

They also say that the project will destroy the community and the Oyster Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

The idea is to build a tunnel connecting Westchester to Long Island. It's something that has been debated for decades. The estimated cost is up to $55 billion, depending on which option is selected.

MORE: Link for the RFEI

MORE: Link to the study

Sen. Carl Marcellino lives in the area, and his district office is in Oyster Bay. He says it's time to stop this plan once and for all.

"This will unalterably change the quality of life here, the way of life here and the look of the neighborhoods," he says.

Kevin Law, president and CEO of the Long Island Association, thinks the project is a great idea. He says it would reduce congestion, strengthen real estate values on Long Island and present job opportunities.

"Let's have a public discussion as to the public benefits to the entire region before we say yes or no to this bridge,” he says.

A spokesman with the state Department of Transportation says the department is “conducting extensive outreach with affected communities.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says a tunnel is necessary to "ensure the region's future economic competitiveness."

Cuomo is trying to gauge interest in the project. Responses to what's called the "Request for Expressions of Interest" are due by April 2.

Another potential tunnel starting point is in Kings Park in Suffolk County.

A spokesperson for the NYSDOT said, “Recognizing the projected growth for the region, NYSDOT continues to explore opportunities to reduce congestion and enhance the economic competitiveness of Long Island. This is the beginning of a longer conversation on how to best proceed. NYSDOT is committed to conducting extensive outreach with affected communities, local officials and stakeholders as the planning for this project progresses.”

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