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Riverkeeper Comments on State Permit for New Tappan Zee Bridge

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Tina Posterli, 914-478-4501 x 239, tposterli@riverkeeper.org

Pushes for More Protective Permit and Increased Mitigation Funding for Hudson River

OSSINING, NY – February 20, 2013 – Riverkeeper submitted comments on a critical state permit needed for the proposed Tappan Zee Bridge project, laying out specific ways to strengthen the permit to minimize impacts to the Hudson River and ensure mitigation funding to offset unavoidable impacts if the bridge goes forward. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released the combined water quality certification, endangered species and tidal wetlands permit for public comment in mid-December 2012. In its comment letter, Riverkeeper raised the following points:

  • The permit must clearly require the Thruway Authority and its contractors to comply with all water quality standards and ensure that monitoring and reporting requirements are in place to protect Hudson River habitat and fish species, including endangered Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon during construction.
  • DEC should significantly increase the scope of mitigation projects and funding required in the permit, given the scale and potential impacts of building new bridges across the Hudson. The current permit requires $8 million of mitigation projects for a $3-4 billion project. As a comparison, a shorter, less expensive new bridge in Virginia required $50 million of mitigation. The state should commit to expanding mitigation and establishing a public process for determining specific projects that will provide the best ecological benefit to the river.
  • Riverkeeper has requested an administrative hearing with DEC, in order to preserve all of their rights if the permit terms are not strengthened and other measures taken to properly protect the Hudson River. Project transparency needs to be increased by making all plans and reports required by the permit to be easily accessible to the public.

“As steward of the Hudson River, Riverkeeper has laid out specific recommendations that would ensure the river is protected and state resources are allocated to compensate for any unavoidable damage done during construction,” said Phillip Musegaas, Riverkeeper’s Hudson River Program Director. “We’re pulling from best practices from similar projects across the country to assess any additional measures that are necessary to put in place before this new bridge can be deemed as ‘river-friendly.’”

Riverkeeper continues to advocate for a Tappan Zee Bridge project that abides by Governor Cuomo’s promise in 2010 to provide “environmentally friendly public transportation” and protection of our natural resources, and will continue to work to make sure that the needs of the Hudson River and the people living near it are met.

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