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Riverkeeper Says Litigation Over TZ Bridge an Option

Non-profit: project endangers already scarce fish

The proposed new Tappan Zee Bridge has its share of critics, be they or Rocklanders .

But few groups are as vehement as Riverkeeper, the Hudson Valley non-profit that seeks to preserve the river's ecology.

Phillip Musegass, the non-profit's Hudson River Program Director, on the negative impacts a new span would usher in, beginning with the effect on an endanger fish population.

"There are less than 1,000 Atlantic sturgeon in the Hudson that are capable of reproducing," Musegass said. The sturgeon is one of the world's oldest fish species.

Musegass said the the state is carrying out may kill the sturgeon, or drive them from their habitat.

Bridge engineers and biologists, however, have said the state is taking measures to ensure the test pilings being driven into the river's floor do not disturb the native species; read more about that .

Musegass also picked apart the state's , noting Riverkeeper will not sit idly while it is tweaked and finalized.

"The project as it stands now—Riverkeeper will go to court to stop it," he said.

The group recently released comprehensive comments and criticisms of the new span, and urged residents to continuing their protests.

"Now that the DEIS comment period has closed, please do not fall silent," said John Lipscomb, the organization's Patrol Boat and Water Quality Program Manager. "Please contact the governor and request that the Hudson ecosystem be protected and request a fully democratic process with meaningful public and community participation."

Among Riverkeeper's worries are an uptick in greenhouse gases, lack of rail and bus transit and possible pricey toll hikes.

The organization also asks the state to delve deeper into possible alternatives, like a .

Richard Kavesh April 25, 2012 at 10:10 AM
Bravo! Anyone who has read Riverkeeper's brief on the DEIS -- prepared by the Environmental Law group at Pace University -- knows there are plenty of valid reasons to sue. I hope the river communities on both sides of the Hudson and Rockland and Westchester counties will join the suit, should it be filed. Let opponents of the suit call us NIMBY or whatever they want -- if we won't stand up for ourselves, who will?
Brian Goudie April 25, 2012 at 12:11 PM
Once again, the looney tune crowd tries to stop progress.
Alex Umrichin April 25, 2012 at 12:19 PM
The right time to have prevented a bridge was 1950. Today, the TZ Bridge is a vital transportation link without which the economy of this region will go down in flames. Not replacing it is patently stupid. Riverkeeper and other environmental wackos may delay construction but it will eventually be built. I hope that this occurs before the current bridge actually fails killing motorists.
Yehbut April 25, 2012 at 12:28 PM
The "fast tracking" of the TZB is politically motivated and not in the best interests of the community or the environment. To even think about building this span without some sort of mass transit component is like watching an accident about to happen. Governor Cuomo had a chance to prove he's a different kind of politician and decline the feds money unless it had no strings attached. I hope Riverkeeper succeeds in delaying this project until the powers that be replace the mass transit option.
Alex Umrichin April 25, 2012 at 01:04 PM
The only possible mass transit option at the moment is the bus for which a bus lane could be designated if necessary. Rail has nowhere to start from and nowhere to end so insuring a future addition of rail is all that is necessary.
Stephen J. Reich April 25, 2012 at 01:26 PM
I hope to God that the current bridge stays operational and does not get closed or worse, fail structurally. If the people against this only knew how dangerous it is on that bridge, this project would have been done already. THe time is NOW. To wait any longer is too much of a gamble and will result in a game of Russian Roulette. Not to mention Federal help is there but will not be for long.
Stephen J. Reich April 25, 2012 at 01:28 PM
For those who contend that the DEIS is slanted toward a quick start to the project, Riverkeeper's report is slanted the opposite way 10-fold.
Jerry April 25, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Many are not against a new bridge. But, for cryin-out-loud, build it correctly this time, include public transportation, and correct the further desecration of South Nyack that was foisted upon it in the 1950's. Governor Coumo...fix those land grabbing entrance/exit ramps in South Nyack and make new parkland out of this waste of real estate space.
Heron April 25, 2012 at 05:23 PM
It's not just Rocklanders who are miffed about the lack of mass transit. Tarrytown residents are also not thrilled by the prospect of more and more cars coming into our village. I think the bus lane is the best idea, and that Tarrytown Village should make the cost of parking at the train station even more expensive for non-residents. I think it's great that the Riverkeeper is considering a lawsuit. I hope they do it.
Richard Kavesh April 25, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Progress is a $5B bridge that will be obsolete on Day One? There are certainly other words to describe this boondoggle, which is nothing but a politically-motivated pork barrel jobs bill on a massive scale, but progress is not one of them.
Jerry April 25, 2012 at 08:30 PM
About 20 years ago, someone argued to me that the Palisades Mall also represented progress. How has that blight on our landscape turned out 10 years later, and I hasten to guess how miserable it will be 10 years from now.
Richard Kavesh April 25, 2012 at 08:56 PM
If the TZ were as bad as you describe, they wouldn't keep it open. Scare tactics are no basis for public policy. A new bridge without mass transit is stupid and short-sighted.
Stephen J. Reich April 25, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Mr. Kavesh, Spoken like a true politician. How many hours have you spent working on or under the bridge? My guess is zero. The bridge is open but the reason for replacement is that it is increasingly becoming more likely that it will be shut down or fail. As far as no mass transit, please tell me how you would pay for train service? The bridge, as designed, will be ready from day one for bus transit or rail as soon as it is viable. But I am sure you or some other misinformed group will try to squash that. Once construction starts, the prudent thing to do is to start the process for rapid transit/rail so it can be added soon after completion. By the way, I personally have spent thousands of hours working on the bridge and represent men and women who have logged thousands more.
John Gromada April 26, 2012 at 04:58 AM
The bridge has not been designated as structurally deficient, as many others have, but as functionally obsolete- they just don't want to pay to maintain it anymore. It's not falling down anytime soon, in fact more than half the repairs to rehabilitate it completely have already been done and paid for. If the sturgeon is really threatened by this project, it should absolutely NOT be built.
John Gromada April 26, 2012 at 05:08 AM
Here is the DOT list of bridges in the area, and their ratings: https://www.dot.ny.gov/main/bridgedata/repository/RocklandBridgeData.pdf You can see that the TZ is rated "FO" which means it's "functionally obsolete"- it's not wide enough, doesn't have shoulders etc. Look at how many other bridges are labeled as "FO". But also take a look at how many are categorized as "SD"- or structurally deficient. Do you see anyone rushing to replace those bridges even though have been found to be structurally deficient-that is to say, dangerous and in far worse shape than the TZ? The deck replacement is nearly complete, the pier protection was put in in the last 10 years- nearly a billion dollars has been put into the bridge to repair it. Should we throw that all away? Stop scaring people. Even if you work on the bridge you are not qualified to make an assessment on it's condition- the engineers tell us it is not structurally deficient. Just look at the data please
Stephen J. Reich April 26, 2012 at 09:04 AM
You should be scared. THe bridge is on it's last leg. If it were to fail, there would be no warning. No swaying or leaning etc. It will just go. Splitting hairs on the line of "functionally obsolete" and "structurally deficient" is not the argument. The argument is to take advantage of opportunities to replace a bridge that becomes a safety gamble where the odds move to the negative side a little more every day. It will fail unless we replace it or limit traffic access.
Stephen J. Reich April 26, 2012 at 09:06 AM
All major improvements to society are "politically motivated". That's how it works in America. Where have you been for the last 150 years? Do you think Riverkeeper has no political motivations?
Richard Kavesh April 26, 2012 at 11:43 AM
To use the vernacular, "functionally obsolete" means out-of-date while "structurally deficient" means falling apart. That's not splitting hairs, that's a significant difference. For 10 years, NYS officials told the public that it makes no sense to build a new bridge withouit mass transit. Now they've flip-flopped 100% and told us to replace an old, obsolete bridge with a new bridge that will be obsolete on Day One. That is what makes no sense. Officials backing TZII make no pretense that it will improve regional air quality or reduce regional congestion -- it's become a jobs bill, pure and simple, for the construction industry, which will no doubt reward its political patrons with endorsements and cash. And if you think that mass transit will be retrofitted, ask the residents of Fort Lee how that commuter rail is doing across the lower level of the George Washington Bridge. I hope the Riverkeeper suit is successful so that the project can be stopped in its tracks until there is money to build it with mass transit from the beginning. Do it once and do it right.
Stephen J. Reich April 26, 2012 at 12:41 PM
It is a process. Even in good economic times to do the whole corridor would be challenging. It must be done a piece at a time. The bridge will be ready for mass transit development on day 1. A bug part of the problem with mass transit is the need for property seizures and station construction. When it is a reality, you will see far more homes being moved than 6. Be careful what you wish for.
Jerry April 26, 2012 at 01:05 PM
Not asking for a rail necessarily, which agreeed would lead to much more land seizure but we need the BRT (Bus Rapid Transit). The State needs to repair South Nyack, which was torn apart in the 1950's and left with a gaping chasm in its town. Fix the South Nyack interchange, restore it to the town again! New York State government is a pip. Either you get enormous dysfunction as we've had since every Governor since Hugh Carey, or dictatorial mandates which Governor Andrew is deciding for us. Both methods stink. How about a little populism and democracy from now on.
Stephen J. Reich April 26, 2012 at 02:56 PM
The bridge will be ready that is a fact. It is the environmental review and eminent domain proceedings that won't. Once project starts that is the time to start the process of adding bus/rail That will require widening of thruway up to West Nyack. Of course it will be decades before the cry babies allow that to happen. All the current structural specs provide for mass transit capabilities on the new bridge. Wear glasses next time.
Stephen J. Reich April 26, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Rail and bus lane is speculation based upon experience and common sense. The bridges's ability to handle added mass transit options after construction is derived from the engineering specs and preliminary shop drawings. I am not sure they are available in the public forum. I am sure you could get the info from the State engineering dept.
Stephen J. Reich April 26, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Looks like we are arguing over a moot point now!
John Gromada April 26, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Stephen- I am friend of labor- belong to two unions myself, and am actually on the negotiating committee right now for a new CBA being negotiated. I don't get with the position of the 754. Don't you all realize that adding the transit component to the new TZ would add many more jobs for your membership, both in the short and long runs? Now we hear that the fed loan has been rejected, and I would guess that it might have something to do with the fact that there is no public transit included in the project. We already in violation of federal air standards, this project would make things worse. We have been working lobbying all of our reps to oppose this because of the lack of transit- they are hearing us. You should join with us to advocate for BRT, because it would make the project likelier to happen , with more public support, and because it is the best thing for your membership! Mass transit will stimulate growth that will provide work for laborers. Join us to support BRT on the bridge.
Stephen J. Reich April 26, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Just kidding, this is an expected result(no funding). If the Feds turn down the second request, then there is problems with financing.
Stephen J. Reich April 26, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Absolutely! But my experience is that if you do not get things off the ground they never start. Just look at the history of this debacle. It has been 13 years since this was taken up. I firmly believe you have to start the lynchpin part of the project in order to get the rest of the corridor moving. No doubt that the first loan app was turned down due to the smaller scopeand no BRT. But, there also was only $100 million up for grabs. THe test will be in the Fall when the second round of apps are looked at and 10 billion is up for grabs(if Congress approves). Common sense dictates that once you start the project and provide for rail and bus in the design, you can start the 3 year process of getting the approvals to widen the Thruway (where the real bottleneck point is)Just to do the rock cut before exit eleven will require the moving of million dollar properties. I just do not see this happening until the project starts. If this gets delayed another 3 or 4 years, you will see millions go into a bandaid fix while keeping our fingers crossed about whether or not the thing will fail. I have spent hours on, under and inside the cassons of the bridge and it is not pretty. If it is a matter of just a dedicated bus lane that is a no brainer, but from what i understand, a whole corridor study will have to be redone. If so, do it while they are building the bridge and then just roll it into the finished product. It puts pressure on all parties to make things happen.
John Gromada April 26, 2012 at 06:35 PM
I understand your thinking. But the way they are rushing into this without an adequate EIS, they are leaving themselves open to lawsuits like this which will slow or stop the project entirely- plus the way they're going about it is pissing so many people off on all sides that the mounting public opposition threatens the project too. Cuomo thinks he's Robert Moses- can't just jam a project like this down peoples' throats anymore. Their rush to action threatens the entire project and the jobs that would be created by it.

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