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New TZB Clears Final Hurdle, Will Move Ahead

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that a new Hudson span received the Federal Highway Administration's blessing.

After years of planning, mounting anxiety over tentative toll hikes and contentious debates over land use, the effort to build a new Tappan Zee Bridge is slated to move forward.

The $5.2 billion project cleared its final review hurdle Tuesday, Sept. 25 upon receiving approval from the Federal Highway Administration. The federal agency issued a positive Record of Decision (ROD) for the new span, which has been championed by Governor Andrew Cuomo and White House officials.

The state can now begin planning for the crossing's construction, which is estimated to take five years and will be carried out by one of three interested bidders.

"In less than a year, the project to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge was expedited by President Obama, public hearings were held, the environmental review process was completed, and now the federal government has approved the plan," Cuomo said Tuesday. "With this major milestone, New York once again is demonstrating that we can make government work efficiently and effectively for the people of the state, and we can take a large step toward building a safer, better and more reliable bridge."

Cuomo stopped in Piermont last month, urging residents to support the new span while flanked by a handful of local lawmakers. Cuomo is actively seeking federal funds to help finance the billion-dollar undertaking.

Tolls on the crossing may rise to $14 to fund the build, state officials said earlier this summer, but that uptick is too excessive, according to Cuomo.

The state released a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) in early August, a dossier of reports and findings that unpack the impact of a new Hudson span. The FEIS tackles traffic issues and environmental concerns.

The project will be an economic boon, Federal Transportation officials said Tuesday.

"The construction of this new bridge will create thousands of jobs," Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez said. "It's a prime example of what President Obama called 'an America built to last.' When completed, it will make travel safer and more efficient in one of the nation's busiest areas—setting the stage for economic growth for years to come."

Local politicos have lauded the news, with Sen. David Carlucci calling the step forward "an important milestone," and Rep. Nita Lowey hailing it as "a hugely important step."

Other Rocklanders have taken direct issue with the build; non-profit environmental group Riverkeeper has threatened to sue over the project, and residents near the Hudson's shore have said construction will disrupt their quality of life.

John Taggart September 26, 2012 at 10:00 AM
Clinton moved all our steel factories to China in the 90s. The're the only ones who have the capacity to build the large structural parts now
elizabeth September 26, 2012 at 10:28 AM
Scotty & Voice of Reason, ( and others,) you are so right! This is an irrational, political move, that cares nothing for the aesthetics, and quality of life of the river villages, not to mention the aquatic environment of the river. Oh yeah, and it's going to cost a fortune! I live in Nyack, not too close to the river, but my heart goes out to those who do. Even from my house, blocks away, I heard some of the preliminary construction. A new bridge is simply not necessary! Kudos to Riverkeeper for telling the truth, and trying to preserve our beautiful river!
Laborers Local 754 September 26, 2012 at 11:48 AM
We know a couple of hundred people that will be employed when this project starts. The higher toll will be a reality but it is a toll that will be in line with what is realistic today, not a toll that is kept artificially low for political reasons. The fourth lane will be added after a 10 year battle over environmental issues and eminent domain seizures. MANY eminent domain seizures. The new cement deck actually lowers the structural life of the bridge due to the increased weight. THese were added as a short term stop-gap to prevent the increasing "punch-throughs" that were happening on the deck in the late 1990's and early 2000's. Nothing made of steel is rust proof. Once painted, you start from the beginning again because by the time it is done, it is time to start again.
Laborers Local 754 September 26, 2012 at 11:52 AM
There is a Project Labor Agreement in place that ensures local tradesmen will be used on the project. If it becomes a reality, the trades will need more people and there will be an opportunity for unemployed people from other job sectors to take part . The problem is knowing a timeline and a schedule so the local trades can train new people in skills and safety procedures.
Riverhawk September 26, 2012 at 12:49 PM
Remember the constant noise of the pile driver day and night.
Kevin Zawacki (Editor) September 26, 2012 at 12:54 PM
Remy, officials have said they hope to start before the end of 2012. The next step is awarding one of the three interested parties the bid to build the bridge.
Kevin Zawacki (Editor) September 26, 2012 at 12:55 PM
Riverhawk, are you from South Nyack? I know a lot of residents there said the test piling from over the summer was excessively loud.
Kevin Zawacki (Editor) September 26, 2012 at 12:55 PM
Question: has anyone ever felt unsafe while driving over the current bridge?
Laborers Local 754 September 26, 2012 at 12:56 PM
Where do you get your information? Your statement that this is a bridge "no one" wants is a bit of a stretch. This thing needs to be replaced and the time is now because money is cheap and the benefit to the economy can be maximized. Spend a few days on and under the bridge and you will see why it needs to be replaced. I agree that toll increases hurt, but we need to address these infrastructure issues all over the country NOW. The alternative is gambling with a much larger economic cost than toll increases.
Laborers Local 754 September 26, 2012 at 12:59 PM
I find it hard to believe that you will hear pile driving at night. I believe it has already been establshed that there will be strict requirements as to when pile driving will take place. There is not doubt that there will be noise from the construction, but it is much less than the noise you will hear when the bridge fails or is shut down!
Laborers Local 754 September 26, 2012 at 01:04 PM
As someone who has spent hundreds of hours working on, under, and inside the bridges structurall components, I do. I avoid it whenever possible. You can close your eyes to to reality of the bridges lifespan, but I cannot . Too much to risk. THis whole corridor needs upgrading and this is the first step that will get the ball rolling. We will have to deal with it and then move on. It is funny how the people that are compl;aining the most about noise and tolls are the ones that are making the project more intrusive by making it last longer and become more expensive.
Riverhawk September 26, 2012 at 01:13 PM
With all respect to you, we most certainly could hear the pile driver at night, in school during the day and at night . I am sure others remember also. They put the bridge there now it has to be replaced , so be it. I am just saying it will be noisy. I remember walking across it the day it opened. Time flies don't it.
marie lorenzini September 26, 2012 at 01:23 PM
All are addressing the "safe" nature of this project.....but why is the only the "river crossing" unsafe.....what about the present day safety issues outlined in all the same reports as to the "safety" of the bridge being ignored...? "This thing needs to be replaced and the time is now because money is cheap and the benefit to the economy can be maximized" ( a comment from Laborers Local 754)......if the safety of both the bridge and the corridor, at least in the several miles once the bridge hits land in Rockland is documented ( project's own reports) and money is cheap and the benefit to the economy can be maximized, why is "selected safety" being pushed ........political...?
Riverhawk September 26, 2012 at 01:28 PM
This is progress , it is a shame they stopped the new route 9 at Ossining we would have taken care of the awful traffic situation in the Tarrytowns.
Cody k September 26, 2012 at 02:36 PM
I agree that the bridge needs to be replaced. Anyone who has taken Metro-North under the bridge and seen up close what the pilings and underside of the bridge looks like should agree. I think there is something extremely, psychoticly, wrong with the price tag. Five BILLION dollars? While I am not privy to the financial specifics, a price tag doesn't get that outsized without a serious level of graft. To compare, the original bridge cost something like 10% of that, even adjusting for inflation. The Birj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, cost only 1.5 billion USD.
Now is the time September 26, 2012 at 08:48 PM
The new bridge will be safer and reduce traffic mostly due to the availability if breakdown lanes. I was behind a car last week that hit that lane mover and we were fortunate to avoid a multiple car crash but hardly got past. I can only imagine the hours of traffic it caused behind me. Everyone is right that there need to be further improvements made to the thruway, especially on the Rockland side. But at least they are getting started with the bridge and it will make a huge difference with breakdown emergency lanes and the bus lanes. Support the bridge and support the thruway improvements across the corridor. Next up BRT mass transit!
Voice of Reason September 26, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Response to Local 754... New York State has spent time on and under the bridge and has deemed it safe with the exeption that it is not earthquake proof. Read the reports on the website about the bridge. The current bridge is safe. As far as your statement that nothing is rust-proof, you are correct. The new bridge won't be rust-proof either, so both the new or old one will have to be re-painted with rust-proofing over and over. So rust is not the issue here. As far as your comment that Many homes will be taken if we add a 4th lane to 87 Northbound between exits 11 and 13, I don't think that is the case. We just need to add 1 lane, there's plenty of room. The only issue is the over and underpasses that will need to be modified to fit. That's a big job, but theres no need to get all dramatic and start taking property for this. Your union would be happy to get a nice project like that. The guys that are finishing up the Route 59 project can work on the new add-lane project for 87. I think we should push for that, it will solve many traffic issues caused by losing a lane right at the beginning of that steep incline up to exit 13.
Laborers Local 754 September 26, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Northbound will take homes and property and Southbound needs a huge rock cut and the seizure of high dollar property on top. This will happen after the bridge is built and we will see rail 20 years down the line. Everything hinges on the bridge being built. THe current bridge is "safe" but I would not trust it past 5 to 10 years,hence the reason a new bridge is going in. You can only sandblast, paint and repair concrete, steel and underwater foundations so many times. Its like when your brake pads start the screeching noise, you know they still work, but it is a matter of time,short time, before the rotors are gone and they fail. The TZB is screeching.
Voice of Reason September 26, 2012 at 09:24 PM
I don't think it's worth 5.2 Billion dollars for a breakdown lane. There are currently tow-trucks that are on standby on both sides of the bridge that are dedicated to towing cars that break down. I understand that it may be frustrating to be stuck in traffic because of a breakdown on the bridge, but it's not worth 5.2 Billion dollars. If they will just put all this energy into adding the lane on the rockland side Northbound between exits 11 and 13, that would solve traffic problems from congestion due to the steep incline between those exits. That is an every day problem. (breakdowns on the bridge are an occasional problem)
Laborers Local 754 September 26, 2012 at 09:29 PM
only so much money available. I am all for expanding the project up the whole corridor to Newburgh
Laborers Local 754 September 26, 2012 at 09:31 PM
Both the lane addition and the bridge are needed.
Mike V September 26, 2012 at 10:57 PM
I'm a truck driver.My truck is VERY well maintained. I bounce up and down ,very UNSAFE, on the new concrete sections. In my car,I hardly feel it. Its dangerous!!! I also have been under bridge on a boat. Its in VERY BAD SHAPE!! We do need it ASAP!! Something bad is going to happen.Its just a matter of time. I avoid it as much as possible.
Voice of Reason September 26, 2012 at 11:38 PM
Everything does not hinge on the new bridge being built. The extra lane project should be started right away. We are in immediate need of it. Traffic is bad because of it. The bridge can wait, lets get our money's worth out of the new deck that we just put on it and re-do the bridge in 10 years. Also, it will give us time to figure out a rail system and a more affordable way of replacing the bridge with new technology.
Voice of Reason September 26, 2012 at 11:40 PM
I have a boat too. The under part of the bridge is covered up. You can't see anything under there. Do I need to take a picture and post it for you. What are you talking about Mike????
NyackPride September 27, 2012 at 02:16 AM
A lot of B.S. on this thread. I am not an engineer so I can not make a call either way on condition of bridge. I believe Rockland is extremely currupt and New bridge is DEFINATELY not worth me paying an extra 2k/yr to cross over. The middle class is dwindeling very very fast in Rockland and paying 14$ for a hudson river crossing into WESTCHESTER (Not NYC) is unacceptable! Why is westchester so much more lucrative to live in than Rockland? one reason ins because of the metro north line. Someone put false statistics regarding amount of travel over TZ, no true way of knowing all cars destinations over bridge!
MitchP September 27, 2012 at 03:02 AM
I can vouch just a week or two ago I saw a trailer bouncing on the bridge Rockland-bound.
Laborers Local 754 September 27, 2012 at 11:31 AM
I can only vouch for my membership. 45% live in Rockland County and 40% live within a 60 mile radius. We also will draw from qualified local people to fill any jobs needed once the membership is working.
Laborers Local 754 September 27, 2012 at 11:51 AM
You do realize that this is a State and Federal project? Rockland officials do not have much authority over it. Your comment makes no snse.
Mike V September 27, 2012 at 11:59 PM
When I was under the bridge it was NOT covered. ITS A MESS!!!!!!
Insider September 30, 2012 at 04:10 PM
The NYMTC (NY Met. Transportation Council)and TRANSCOM (see their web sites) collect origin and destination data of how many bridge crosses occur and where they are coming from and going to (cars trucks buses). Not only has commuting to NYC fallen as an overall percentage of all crossings but in actual numbers. Additionall, pass-through truck traffic has substantially increased to avoid the congestion and high tolls of the GWB.

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