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Riverkeeper Continues to Blast TZ Bridge Plan, Calls for Support

A letter to the editor from Riverkeeper

To the editor, and Rockland residents:

(This letter is a response to the state's planned construction of a new Tappan Zee Bridge; read the latest .)

The Hudson River needs you.

Governor Cuomo and the State agencies involved are bent on pushing through a plan to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge at breakneck speed, while refusing to answer the public’s tough questions about impacts to the Hudson River, mass transit, and even the fundamental question of whether we need a new bridge in the first place.  

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on the new bridge completely fails to account for the severe impacts to the river that would result if the State’s plan is carried out.

By illegally eliminating alternative proposals and ignoring the river impacts, the State is trying to fool the public into believing that its proposal is the only one worth supporting, and the impacts won’t be that bad. This is a whitewash, plain and simple.

    
We must find a way to solve our transportation problems without sacrificing the River.


It's critically important that you take action now to protect the Hudson River and our communities from a fatally flawed and potentially destructive Tappan Zee crossing project.  Officials need to hear that voters want alternatives that will prevent massive environmental damage. Tell them you don't want to be stuck with the tax bill and the tolls for a project that is obsolete from Day 1.


The opportunity to respond to the DEIS ends on Friday, March 30.  The State is required by law to review and consider all public comments.

We encourage you to express your own concerns or use Riverkeeper's as a guideline (see below).  Submit your comments by mail, fax or email:

Michael P. Anderson
Project Director, NYS DOT
4 Burnett Boulevard
Poughkeepsie, New York 12603
Email: tzbsite@dot.state.ny.us
P: 877-892-3685
F: 845-454-7443

Riverkeeper will be filing detailed comments regarding the Tappan Zee Bridge Draft Environmental Impact Statement before the public comment deadline on March 30.   These are some of our top concerns:

 

  • Mass transit must be part of any new crossing plan from Day 1.  Without mass transit, traffic and pollution that is already at unacceptable levels will only increase; communities in Rockland and Westchester will inevitably suffer.
  • The public must be presented with alternatives. State and Federal environmental law mandate that the State provide the public with multiple options for an improved Tappan Zee crossing. The long-term costs and benefits of building a tunnel, rehabilitating the existing bridge, or building a single new span (versus two, as proposed) must be fully analyzed and disclosed to the public. The analysis must consider the lifetime maintenance cost, in addition to the construction cost, of each option, and it must consider the impacts to the Hudson River environment and the impacts and possible benefits for community economic development.
  • The Hudson River must be protected. The health of the Hudson River is critical to our local communities, our economy and many species of fish that populate the western North Atlantic, and must not be sacrificed. Bridge construction would require a massive dredging and pile driving project that would destroy critical fish habitat, disrupt fish spawning migration, kill endangered Shortnose and Atlantic Sturgeon and other important and already stressed species and spread possibly contaminated river sediment throughout the sensitive and vital Tappan Zee “Bay” area. 
  • The costs must be accounted for. This DEIS is premature and incomplete because the State has not secured any funding for the project. How can we judge which is the best alternative, if we do not know where the money will come from, and who will bear the costs? Governor Cuomo has said that it will probably be paid for by tolls, which independent studies predict would be doubled or tripled to pay for the construction. Putting the cost of the bridge on the backs of working New Yorkers is unethical and will hurt the local economy. The State must present a detailed financial plan to the public that fully describes the sources of funding, including any information about toll increases. Moving forward without a financial plan that’s vetted by the public is bad politics and bad business.
  • Comprehensive designs must be presented before proceeding. This DEIS does not include final design renderings and/or construction details for the public to consider. A comprehensive, meaningful review by the public is required by law. Without final design details, we cannot possibly evaluate the environmental, social, scenic and economic consequences of the proposed two new bridges across one of the widest and most beautiful stretches of the Hudson River.
  • Regional traffic impacts must be considered.  New York State is being dishonest when it pretends that this project is only about the bridge. For over a decade, this project included I-287 through Rockland and Westchester and mass transit, because the goal was to prevent congestion and accommodate growth regionally. New York State has recast the project as a simple “bridge replacement” to avoid doing the hard work of creating a sustainable transportation plan for the region that looks to the future, not the past. Give us a SMART plan for the 21st century that includes mass transit.

Riverkeeper encourages elected officials and members of the public to comment on this proposal before the deadline of March 30.  Also please consider forwarding this to a friend – the more people that comment, the better.  This email has been sent to elected officials in the Westchester–Rockland region.

—John Lipscomb, Piermont; Patrol Boat "R. Ian Fletcher," Water Quality Program

Bob March 15, 2012 at 01:50 PM
Patch, good photos below the bridge.
Paul Feiner March 15, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Tarrytown Mayor Drew Fixell has proposed a very innovative idea for the Tappan Zee bridge-- a concept that could help make the TZ bridge construction initiative a world class accomplishment. The Mayor and Village Board has suggested that when the new bridge is built that a a new bus/rail transfer station be added into the new bridge’s toll plaza. Such a facility (the “TZB Station”) would allow bus passengers headed to Grand Central to quickly transfer to a new platform below. And aside from offering a quick congestion-free link, the TZB Station would also enable busses to seamlessly continue on, without delay, to other locations throughout Westchester. This proposal would reduce traffic congestion , and save time by providing pedestrian and more convenient automobile drop-off access to Metro-North for the many commuters living nearby who now crowd the already congested streets leading to the Tarrytown train station. Second, by providing residents in the immediate vicinity of the new bridge with walking distance access to the Metro-North trains, the facility would add enormous value to properties next to the bridge. the TZB Station would provide both broad environmental and financial added value by enabling reverse commuters, i.e., those taking the Hudson Line to Tarrytown, to walk and/or to significantly shorten their post-train commutes to the many nearby employment destinations, such as the office buildings and hotels. PAUL FEINER ,
Rob Friedman March 15, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Paul, while this idea for a TZB Station seems fine, it assumes that a new bridge is going to be built. We cannot accept this until it is PROVEN by the State that a new bridge is needed and that the current structure cannot be repaired. This has yet to occur. According to engineers involved in the project, rail makes little sense for the Tappan Zee, both in terms of cost and regional needs. BRT is the option that will most likely be used for mass transit. Remember that the Thruway Authority has told us in the past that BRT could be installed tomorrow on the current bridge. Basically, the introduction of mass transit does not require a new bridge to be constructed. Finally, a TZB Station would not alleviate the stress of building a new bridge on the Hudson River ecosystem. As John says above, we cannot sacrifice the River to meet our perceived transportation needs. Let's focus our attention here on holding the State agencies accountable on why we need a new bridge instead of simply accepting that it's going to be built. Rob Friedman Patrol Boat Program Riverkeeper
Alberta M. Jarane March 15, 2012 at 02:50 PM
I grew up in a city with bridges—the Golden Gate and the Bay bridges—in a city that's known for speaking up for the environment and smart public transportation. The costs (construction and lifetime maintenance), impact to the environment (the river), and the (obvious) need to include a public transportation component should be the cornerstones for any large scale, "smart," 21st century public project like replacing the TZ Bridge. And that assumes the bridge needs to be replaced at all. The idea that these issues are not being addressed in a transparent (and legal) way is simply wrong. As taxpaying citizens it's time to voice our concerns. Why is this project on such a fast track? I've been suspicious from the moment NYS said they wanted to exclude a public transportation component. Today, around the world, municipalities are embracing more technologically advanced, environmentally sensitive, well designed, public sector plans to solving infrastructure needs. Why? Because those municipalities have constituents who demand that kind of thinking, have elected officials that listen to their constituents and who are willing to turn visions into reality. Why Cuomo chooses not to embrace this kind of thinking shows lack of vision and a desire to govern based on old ways of doing things. The whole plan, as proposed currently by Cuomo and NYS, smells well, fishy. We should demand more from our elected officials. It's time for us to speak out.
Jerry March 15, 2012 at 03:16 PM
This “new” bridge being shoved by the Governor down our throats (the job creation aspect will look great on the Presidential candidate resume) clearly shortchanges what the public wants. The Governor's father, Mario Coumo, made his political bones advocating for groups like Riverkeeper, and the river villages effected by the new TZB. Ironic that the son's first major public works project so blatantly ignores what everyone wants and what is clearly needed. From Wikipedia: “He (Mario Coumo) first became known in New York City in the late 1960s when he represented “The Corona Fighting 69,” a group of 69 homeowners from the Queens neighborhood of Corona, who were threatened with displacement by the city’s plan to build a new high school. He later represented another Queens residents group, the Kew Gardens-Forest Hills Committee on Urban Scale, who opposed Samuel LeFrak’s housing proposal adjacent to Willow Lake in Queens. In 1972, Cuomo became more well-known across and beyond New York City when Mayor John Lindsay appointed him to conduct an inquiry and mediate a dispute over low-income public housing slated for the upper-middle-class neighborhood of Forest Hills.”
Bridget March 15, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Mass transit? Yes! Rail? No. How about express buses to key locations. If the bulk of the TZ commuters are getting to White Plains and Metro North train stations why not provide regular bus transport to metro north stops and WP. thereby avoiding billions of infrastructure $ and the disruption of many neighborhoods on both sides of the Hudson.
SANDY SAUNDERS March 15, 2012 at 09:31 PM
THE TWIN BRIDGES PROPOSED WERE ENGINEERED AND DRAWN ON DRAWINGS DATED MAY 2008. THESE DRAWINGS ARE VERY DETAILED AND WERE VERY COSTLY(HOW MUCH?). THEY TOOK A LONG TIME TO DEVELOP. ALL THE 400 PLUS MEETINGS AND ALL THE PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT SINCE THE ORDER TO DRAW A BRIDGE (WHEN) HAVE BEEN PURE WINDOW DRESSING AND A WASTE OF EVERYONE'S TIME AND AN INSULT TO US ALL.ALL EFFORTS TO GET A TRUE REGIONAL TRANSIT SYSTEM WHICH ALSO NOTES THAT HALF THE TRAFFIC ON I-287/I-87 IS HEAVY FREIGHT(BY TON MILES) HAVE BEEN IGNORED. WE SHOULD BE THANKFUL THAT GOVERNOR CUOMO HAS CATALYZED THE DEMAND FOR AN HONEST , USEFUL AND AFFORDABLE PLAN. WE SHOULD NOTE THAT THE HUDSON RIVER TWIN TUNNELS WITH SIX LANES AND FOUR RAIL LINES WERE BUILT NOT HERE BUT IN SHANGHAI AND NOT IN TEN YEARS BUT IN 22 MONTHS AND NOT FOR 5 TO 10 BILLION BUT FOR 800 MILLION AND WITH N0 ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTERS .THANKS GOVERNOR.
Maggie24 March 16, 2012 at 02:10 PM
This bridge should not be built without a mass transit component. Whatever it cost to do so now will multiply--greatly--by whatever future date the planners are talking about. And yes, it should be rail; the assumption that people west of the bridge are primarily going to Weschester County is based on the fact that there is currently no rail system directly to Grand Central. When that component goes into place, more people who work in NYC will move to Rockland and Orange Counties. This will raise property values, bring new business and create jobs for our communiteis. What bothers me is this: the State has said it intends to pay for the bridge, partially, with tolls. Are we being denied mass transit so that they can reap the tolls from us first? I can see no other reason for such poor planning and execution.
Anthony Mele August 12, 2012 at 10:47 PM
The Bridges are necessary to inter-state commerce. This is clear. Like any other business proposition, it comes down to price. No one will over pay for a devaluing product. In modern dollars, the Brooklyn Bridge cost $320 million to build, the Lincoln Tunnel cost under $1 billion. A suspension, Pilon Bridge spanning the Hudson should not cost 5 times more the average bridge anywhere else in NYS. Nor should the consumer cost be drastically prohibitive as all NY Tolls are today. I suggest, everybody get back to the drawing boards, a foreign labor force as is rumored, is off the table, and turn the entire project over to Engineers and Private investors. Politicians and Bureaucrats that never built a lemonade stand have no standing in building a bridge. The proof is look at the mess they re making of it now. Governor, this is a job for American business not Albany Politicians.
John Taggart August 12, 2012 at 11:26 PM
That was 5 months ago, riverkeeper has since disbanded and gone to retirement homes.

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