Politics Across the Hudson

In 2018, the State of New York opened one of the longest, widest, and most expensive bridges in the world. Politics Across the Hudson reveals valuable lessons about overcoming enormous obstacles while also confirming your worst fears about government dysfunction. Winner of the prestigious American Planning Association journalism award for its in-depth research, hard hitting analysis and compelling look at the politics behind New York's first major new bridge in more than 50 years. Rutgers University Press published an updated edition in 2018 with new sections about the bridge's construction, Governor Andrew Cuomo, and the lack of transparency.

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"Philip Plotch combines a terrific story with a relentless search for evidence and doses of humor to give us a first-rate portrayal of the political process at work. He recounts the efforts over several decades to replace the aging Tappan Zee Bridge. Through three decades of struggle and failed plans, three governors—George Pataki, Eliot Spitzer, and David Paterson—kept the project alive though often on a 'death watch.' Plotch reveals how Governor Andrew Cuomo picked up the torch, manipulated the facts where he thought it necessary, and overcame many obstacles to begin construction."

- Jameson W. Doig, author of Empire on the Hudson and Metropolitan Transportation Politics and the New York Region

"Plotch has tremendous insight into the challenges of building extraordinarily complex projects in difficult political and fiscal climates. His professional experience and probing questions have enabled him to help explain Planet Albany—a place where thought defies gravity."

- David A. Paterson, Governor of New York, 2008-2010

“Even with my lifelong interest in traffic congestion, I had much to learn from Politics Across the Hudson. What resonated most with me is the extremely lengthy process of conflicting viewpoints among the many agencies involved in our transportation systems. Nothing gets done fast.”

- Anthony Downs, author of Stuck in Traffic: Coping with Peak-Hour Congestion, Economic Theory of Democracy, and Inside Bureaucracy

“Philip Plotch's political history about the replacement of New York's Tappan Zee Bridge should be on the bookshelf of planners and other practitioners, elected officials, community members, and students engaged in or entering megaproject and urban politics debates."

- Book review by Karen Trapenberg Frick, University of California, Berkeley. Published in Journal of the American Planning Association

“The Tappan Zee Bridge has been a symbol of infrastructure inaction in the U.S. over the last several decades – until now! New York State's Governor Cuomo has found the way to overcome the bickering among the many stakeholders and actually get to construction of the much needed replacement for this obsolescent and heavily used structure. How he did it, and how decades of issues stood in the way, are well told by Dr. Philip Plotch. This is a treatise for policy makers, planners, engineers, community leaders. Plotch has brought to light the genius in how to get big things done. It should go on your shelf next to your copy of Caro.”

– Robert E. Paaswell, Distinguished Professor of Civil Engineering (City College of New York) and Director Emeritus, University Transportation Research Center

“Plotch’s analytical skills are top-notch and his writing is incisive and succinct. He writes with a historian's attention to detail, a political scientist's interest in theory, and a public policy scholar's fascination with how the sausage is actually made.”

– Jeffrey Smith. Assistant Professor of Politics and Advocacy, The New School, New York


Hidden in Plain Sight: Infrastructure at Present (book review). Journal of Planning History. May 2019.

Book review by Jeffrey A. Kroessler. Planning Perspectives. October 2016.

Review by Tim Chapin and Karen Trapenberg Frick in Journal of American Planning Association. June 2016.

Book review by Neil S. Grigg. Public Works Management & Policy. May 2016.

Best books for political junkies. Newsmax. December 2015.

Review by Joseph Berechman. Journal of Planning Literature. October 2015.

Book on Tappan Zee Bridge highlights politicians' shortcomings. Times Herald-Record. October 2015.

Book examines political processes behind both Tappan Zee Bridge projects. Rockland County Times. October 2015.

An important and sobering case study. Review in Publisher's Weekly. August 2015.

What the Tappan Zee Bridge tells us about Dewey, Cuomo and governing today. City Limits. July 2015.

New book explores the politics behind the $4B Tappan Zee. Journal News. July 2015.

Tappan Zee tab still in question: book chronicles long road to replacement. Times Union. July 2015.

New book outlines politics behind building of new Tappan Zee Bridge. Hudson Valley Patch. July 2015.

@Philip Mark Plotch 2022