Riverkeeper has publicly called on the State agencies involved to offer alternatives to replacing the existing Tappan Zee Bridge with a new structure. This could come in the form of a tunnel or repairing the existing bridge and adding mass transit. If it is proven that a replacement bridge is in fact needed, Riverkeeper calls upon the State to minimize harmful impacts to our communities and to the ecology of the Hudson River.
A bridge rehabilitation could address any safety issues including earthquake protection, as well as potentially offer shoulder (break down lanes), a bicycle/pedestrian path, and environmentally protective drainage system, and a state-of-the-art bus rapid transit system. The price tag? About $2.5 billion – approximately $12 billion less than the most conservative estimates for a new bridge with all its touted bells and whistles.
Rehabilitation of an existing bridge is a commonplace solution for an aging span. In 1991 New York City Department of Transportation began rehabilitating the Williamsburg Bridge (opened in 1903) “to undo the effects of age, weather, increased traffic volumes and deferred maintenance and prepare the bridge for another 100 years of service to the City of New York.” The Manhattan Bridge (opened in 1909) is also undergoing a major rehabilitation, as are the Brooklyn Bridge (opened in 1883) and the Queensboro (opened in 1909).
In the fall of 2011 Governor Cuomo and the state agencies involved began pushing a plan forward for a “car only” bridge design that disregards the concerns of the public and local elected officials regarding how the bridge will be paid for, and the shortsighted waste of government resources that fails to improve the region’s transportation system. They have also made every effort to marginalize the public and shield themselves from public accountability, by giving the public only 60 days to weigh in on the largest public works/engineering project in the Hudson Valley’s recent history, and failing to provide a detailed financial plan describing how a new bridge will be paid for.
On April 2, 2012, Riverkeeper submitted extensive comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) to the Tappan Zee Hudson River Crossing Project, calling on state officials to heed the public’s concerns and reconsider their plan to push through a fatally flawed project that is obsolete from day one without mass transit, and would inflict severe damage on the Hudson River ecosystem.