A program to install Art Deco-style towers in front of the city’s bridges and tunnels has come under heavy scrutiny this week after it was revealed that the MTA had set aside $100 million for the project, in the midst of a subway crisis.
Politico first reported on the revelation, which came about at an MTA board meeting on Monday. The MTA has already installed three of these towers in front of the Brooklyn Batter Tunnel, the Queens Midtown Tunnel, and the Triborough Bridge. It’s not exactly clear what purpose these 30-foot-tall towers serve, but already the agency has spent between $42 million and $47 million on the project.
The president of the bridges and tunnels division, Cedrick Fulton, offered up the information regarding the funding set aside for this project, when questioned by the city’s transportation commissioner, Polly Trottenberg, who is also an MTA board member.
Previously the MTA had suggested that the towers merely served a design purpose and were a unifying element between the city’s bridges and tunnels. Later, after investigations conducted by government watchdog Reinvent Albany, and Politico, the MTA changed its tune.
The agency said the towers served a security purpose and hosted cameras and traffic monitoring systems. This seemed to be a source of confusion for board members at the meeting, according to Politico, as was the amount of funding set aside for the project. Trottenberg questioned whether the remainder of the funds should still be used for this project when the subway is still in need of funds.
The Cuomo administration is already facing questions over the new program to have light shows on the city’s bridges, and this seems to be yet another perplexing move on the part of the MTA.