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 Tell them you don't want to be stuck with the tax bill and the tolls for a project that is obsolete from Day 1.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
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