New Tappan Zee Bridge's Environmental Impact Released; Document Details How Rockland Could Be Affected

Completed study outlines bridge's impact on Rockland residents, environment

Questions about how the may affect air quality, and which residents will lose land, now have tentative answers, along with a slew of other queries and concerns.

The Department of Transportation released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) Tuesday for the proposed bridge.

The massive document sprawls across 23 chapters and addresses everything from noise and vibration to effects on the climate and soil to how the new span would affect the Hudson River's waters. It is not the final word on the project, but a penultimate draft.

Also included is a comprehensive list is automobile accidents on that bridge from January 2008 to December 2010—in those two years, there have been approximately 2,000 incidents.

Another key aspect of the document is the timeline. Officials note construction could begin as early as this year.

"New York has spent a decade talking, studying, and meeting about how to replace this vital bridge," said NYSDOT Commissioner Joan McDonald. "But under Governor Cuomo's leadership we have been able to make significant progress in building a new Tappan Zee Bridge... which will create jobs and generate much needed economic development opportunities in the Hudson Valley." 

The undertaking is expected to create around thousands of jobs, according to the DEIS document.

Still——there are no plans to outfit the crossing with mass transit right out of the gate.

"[But] the study does not rule out mass transit options," McDonald said, noting it could be layered on in later years.

Without mass transit, the price tag comes in at about $5.2 billion; with, $16 billion. Officials have stated the project .

In South Nyack, six homes, one vacant lot, one green space and one park area—Elizabeth Park in South Nyack—could be eaten up by the project, according to the DEIS. The land acquired by the state equals 6.09 acres, and is worth about $4.4 million.

The document addresses ecological concerns, too, noting the project will adhere to all appropriate laws—like the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, which protects the birds and their nests and eggs, and the Clean Water Act, which seeks to "restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of waters of the United States."

Recently, local politicians have thrown their support behind the project.

"Governor Cuomo is right to make sure the Tappan Zee project moves forward as quickly as possible, while including the public and ensuring that all voices are heard," said Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee. "With the Draft Environmental Impact Statement now released, all New Yorkers will have a chance to offer their input and comments on this important project."

Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski sounded off, as well.

"The Tappan Zee Bridge project is on the move, and that is great news for the economy and commuters of the Hudson Valley," he said.

Chairwoman of the Rockland County Legislature Harriet Cornell added her support, too.

"In the face of an ever-deteriorating bridge, the Governor and his administration deserve great credit for finding a way to accelerate the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project which will be much safer with wide shoulders and emergency access lanes, less susceptible to congestion caused by slow-climbing trucks, and with ample space for crossings by pedestrians and bicyclists," she said.

There will be two public hearings, one in Rockland and one in Westchester, for the public to weigh in on the DEIS:

Rockland County
Tuesday, Feb. 28, 4 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Palisades Center
4th Floor Community Rooms
1000 Palisades Center Drive, West Nyack

Westchester County
Thursday, March 1, 4 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Westchester Marriott
Grand Ballroom
670 White Plains Road, Tarrytown

The DEIS notes, "Based on the findings of the DEIS and the written and oral comments received during the public hearings," a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) will be prepared. 

"Comments received during the public comment period, including those received at the public hearings, will be addressed in the FEIS," the document continues.



View the full document here.

This is just a preliminary story; Patch will dig into the document, speak with residents and officials and investigate further in the coming days, weeks and months. Stay tuned for updates.


Correction: an earlier version of this story noted nine South Nyack homes, and not six, could be swept up. The error has been remedied.

Scotty January 24, 2012 at 11:42 PM
Oh great...whew...I was a little worried there for a second...I mean S. Nyack only loses a vacant lot, green space , a park and NINE taxpaying hard working citizens lose their homes .... but at least we honor the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, you know, protecting birds, nests and their eggs ! And don't forget the Clean Water Act, protecting our waters. But who protects the home owner > Who says this is fair and just ? : losing your home for massive traffic jams and of course "jobs" , but not for local residents. Amazing !
Ruby Frae January 25, 2012 at 12:07 AM
Wow..I hope our house is one of the 9 that they will take otherwise we are going to have to put up with the construction noise that I'm sure will go on 24-7, and then the increase in traffic noise since they never put up the noise barriers they promised years ago. I understand that Elizabeth Place and the S. Bdwy over-pass will be re-aligned....Maybe I could hand you coffee out of my window on your daily commute!!
Paul Feiner January 25, 2012 at 05:00 AM
NY State has spent about a half a billion dollars on maintaining the existing bridge over the years. They plan to spend over a billion dollars on repairs of the existing bridge between now and when the new bridg is built. Then..they hope to demolish the old bridge which will cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. Is this a good use of taxpayer dollars? It might be less expensive to save the existing bridge and turn it into a suburban version of the high line--a pedestrian/bicycle path. Sign our on line petition at www.tappanbridgepark.com. We are asking for a feasibility study to compare costs of demolishing the bridge with saving the bridge. PAUL FEINER Greenburgh Town Supervisor
Ruby Frae January 25, 2012 at 12:43 PM
Well in reading the Journal News this A.M. I learned that my house will not be one of the nine that the new bridge will take,So I guess that means I am to endure construction noise for 41/2 to 51/2 years. We have lived in this house for 40 years and now will probably have no chance of selling it. What Quality of Life is this ? Scotty was right ....Worry about the Eagle and the Water but not the People..........
Kevin Zawacki (Editor) January 25, 2012 at 02:18 PM
Several of the homes are two-family or multi-family houses, so it's likely that more than nine families will be displaced.
Stephen J. Reich January 25, 2012 at 02:31 PM
As someone who understands the current condition of the bridge very well, I am certain that any person who is against building a new one ASAP would change their mind very quickly if they crawled under it and inside the caissons. The bridge is in danger of failing which would create a major disaster both economically and literally for the area and the nation. Mass transit will be added and should be studied as soon as the new project proceeds. If it is feesible it can be added during the new construction. We have to get the project moving now or we risk losing Federal support. As far as keeping the old bridge, the mantainence costs would be astronomical.`
Stephen J. Reich January 25, 2012 at 02:38 PM
Another point that needs to be understood is that the current bridge is a design that is "fracture critical". If one section were to fail, the whole structure is at risk. This design has been proven to be unacceptable and unsafe with today's traffic loads. One only needs to look at the Minnesota bridge collapse to see the problem this design creates.
Elijah Reichlin-Melnick January 25, 2012 at 04:09 PM
I've been reading the DEIS and am very concerned about the taking of properties in South Nyack. I read the document slightly differently than Kevin, in two points: 1. As far as I saw, the DEIS specifically states that they Do NOT plan to take Elizabeth Park. 2. The list of "affected properties" is a little confusing, but it seems clear to me that they are talking about only 6 houses that would be destroyed, three of which are two family, thus their count of 9 displaced households. Which is 9 too many, but still worth noting tha they have already apparently taken the multi-family nature of some of the properties into account when computing the total.
Kevin Zawacki (Editor) January 25, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Hi Elijah, thanks for writing. The DEIS states: "The project would also affect a portion of Elizabeth Place Park. Elizabeth Place Park is located on lands conveyed to the Village of South Nyack by a quitclaim deed prepared by New York State in 1960 on lands within the New York State Thruway right-of-way." Again, this is the penultimate draft, so the project could end up backing off the park completely, or comandeering the entire thing. As for the homes, you're right-- the map highlights six, not nine. I'll fix that error in the story.
Blue January 25, 2012 at 06:26 PM
We need a new safer bridge and we r getting one. They fast tracked it for political gain but I don't care as long as it gets done. We can't have 3 years of people standing at meetings asking what the sun glare is going to be like at 4:30 on Sunday driving west. It has to get done ASAP and if the last Tarrytown Dodo bird has to lose its nest. So be it.
Elijah Reichlin-Melnick January 25, 2012 at 06:36 PM
The DEIS does state that about the Park, but then in the table that indicates the exact amount of land that would be taken, it mentions that they plan to take .032 of an acre, 3.2% of the .81 acre park, and it subsequently mentions that "use of Elizabeth Place Park would be unaffected, and access would remain available from the Raymond G. Esposito Trail to the west." That does make it sound though that the current access off of Elizabeth Pl. could be lost, but perhaps none of the park itself.
Watchdog January 26, 2012 at 06:04 PM
The South Nyack and Grandview LIBS are raising their NIMBY voices. FINALLY, they are affected by one of the many Obama inspured programs they espouse for the Common Good.. Next, we need some low income housing in those two protected enclaves.
Blue January 26, 2012 at 07:57 PM
The integritiy of the bridge is all I care about. Construction , traffic and noise are coming no matter what so get ready. 50-100 years is large window don't you think? But I'd take a 50 year bridge all day. Technology is going to render whatever they build obsolete in 20 years anyway. I can't even fathom what this area will look like in 50 years so who cares? NYC could be Detroit for all we know and nobody would be using the bridge. Get a nice safe design and start the hammering on the new Gov. Andrew Cuomo Crossing!!! Nice ring to it right?
Blue January 27, 2012 at 12:40 PM
I'm not rolling over. I know it SHOULD have mass transit but I'm also a realist. Reality is that the Fed. gov is not chipping in , NY is broke , the infrastructure to accomodate rapid bus would disrupt so many lives I can't even count, nevermind rail, and the old bridge is a black hole we keep throwing money down. Its not like we just started looking at this. All the different options have been looked at and this is the only feasible way to get it done right now. Sometimes reality sucks


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