Leaf-peepers, commuters and other motorists who use the Adirondack Northway will undoubtedly be gladdened by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s new “Drivers First” policy regarding weekend construction on the Twin Bridges (and of highway construction projects in general). That should be especially true around noon today, when work will cease and all of the highway’s six lanes will reopen, ensuring a smoother trip back from the North Country than has been possible in recent weeks, when the six-lane highway was constricted to but two until 5 a.m. each Monday.
It was reported, after the policy change announcement came Thursday, that Cuomo and several top state officials had experienced one of the mammoth weekend bridge tie-ups firsthand on their way back to the Capital Region from a trip to the Adirondacks — the implication being that the governor’s personal experience had led to the policy change.
A Cuomo spokesman reportedly denied it — claiming the change was in the works prior to the trip — but so what if that’s how it came to pass? Cuomo would have little to apologize for.
The notion that it’s a conflict of interest for a political leader to fix a problem that affects him directly is a bit silly — at least when the problem affects thousands of constituents as well. Elected officials are people, too, and it’s good for them to get out and about once in awhile to see the effect of their policies — and to tweak or change those policies as needed.
Politicians who allow themselves to become so insulated from reality that they lose touch with how people live are useless. While this tends to happen more at the national level — with presidents, who are obviously quite busy and can’t move about freely due to security issues — than at the state or local level, it does happen here in varying degrees. And it helps explain how utterly clueless some government policies can be.