New York spent $106 million on Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plan to put multicolored flashing lights on state-run New York City bridges before the project quietly was halted, Politico reported Monday.
The Democrat governor envisioned a "Harbor of Lights" in which city bridges synced up with other landmarks set to their own soundtrack for a "spectacular light exhibition," Politico said.
The project began with a Mother's Day 2017 unveiling on the new Kosciuszko Bridge, linking Brooklyn and Queens.
Critics, however, questioned why the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the state-run agency that owns the bridges, would spend money on optics while more critical issues — subway delays and poor service — needed to be addressed.
Politico said the project was halted, but not until the state spent $106 million, including about $37 million for LED lights that remain sitting in a warehouse.
"It's terrible that we blew $106 million of taxpayer money on a project that never should’ve gotten off the drawing board,” Democrat state Sen. Liz Krueger, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, told Politico. "I’m still happy the project did not go forward."
Politico reported that the project lingered for so long, the New York Power Authority was without the ability to sell long-term public bonds because it was forced to carry the plan’s costs for years.
Cuomo spokesperson Rich Azzopardi, though, told Politico on Friday the project still would happen. He cited tourism dollars from bridge lightings in San Francisco, as well as attractions in London, Montreal, Paris, and Philadelphia, as evidence of the potential benefits.
"This project will drive tourism — helping to rebuild an incredibly important part of New York’s economy that was destroyed by this pandemic — and make New York an even more dynamic place to live and open a business," Azzopardi said in a statement.
Azzopardi added it was "no secret" that COVID-19 and other infrastructure plans "took precedence, but we continue to be excited about the Harbor of Lights project and intend to see it through."
Informed of Cuomo's aim to resurrect the project, Krueger told Politico she doesn't believe "it's a very good use of the public's money" and doesn’t "believe the process was kosher."
News of the bridge lighting fiasco came as Cuomo faces multiple investigations related to personal misconduct allegations and accusations his administration covered up the number of COVID-19 nursing home-related deaths.
New York taxpayers have paid for problematic projects before. The state spent millions of dollars installing "I LOVE NEW YORK" tourism signs along highways only to be informed by federal officials that they were illegal and had to be removed, Politico said.
Cuomo also reportedly was involved in changing the tile color on MTA tunnels midway through a project at a multimillion-dollar cost.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.