News > News > Preserve River Ecology > Riverkeeper Reports Unauthorized Construction at Tappan Zee Bridge Staging Area Site in Coeymans; Calls on State Regulators to Require Full Environmental Review of Project

Riverkeeper Reports Unauthorized Construction at Tappan Zee Bridge Staging Area Site in Coeymans; Calls on State Regulators to Require Full Environmental Review of Project

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

Illegal commencement of construction highlights need for strict oversight of all Tappan Zee Bridge construction activities
Ossining, NY – September 9, 2014 – After filing detailed comments challenging the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) decision not to conduct an environmental review of the Port of Coeymans Tappan Zee Bridge (TZB) staging area project, Riverkeeper discovered through an up-river patrol and subsequent investigation efforts that construction had begun on the TZB sub-assembly staging area at the Port of Coeymans just south of Albany, although the necessary permits for such construction were still under review by DEC. The unpermitted and illegal construction included what appeared to be foundational work for the on-land portions of the trestle piers that are proposed to extend over 100 feet into the Hudson River.

In the course of checking on the status of the proposed permits for the staging area, which involves pile driving, dredging, and construction of four 100 plus foot piers in the river, Riverkeeper reported the illegal construction activities to DEC, who, after a site visit, immediately ordered the contractor and builder of the TZB Replacement project, Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC, to stop work and began an investigation at the site. DEC has also indicated that no construction will re-commence on the site without the proper permits being issued.

“Riverkeeper commends DEC staff for taking action to stop this rushed construction job from going forward without the required permits,” said Phillip Musegaas, Hudson River Program Director at Riverkeeper. “At the same time, this highlights the critical need for DEC to require a full environmental review of this project prior to issuing any permits. It’s undisputed that the Coeymans TZB Staging Area is inherently connected to the larger bridge construction project happening downriver, and must be held to the same level of environmental review and strict permit requirements as the bridge replacement itself.”

Background
In August, DEC issued a “Negative Declaration” for the project, determining that there would be no significant impacts, and no further environmental review is required, even though the Coeymans project is situated directly across the river and next to two state designated habitat areas that support numerous fish and bird species, including endangered sturgeon. Riverkeeper is urging DEC to reverse its course and require a comprehensive environmental review for the TZB sub-assembly project at the Port of Coeymans, in order to comply with the law and protect the sensitive natural resources of the Hudson River.

The Coeymans project will result in significant environmental impacts to the Hudson River and surrounding communities, as described in the permit application itself, and even the DEC Negative Declaration. But yet, DEC still determined there would be no significant environmental impacts thus precluding any meaningful analysis of the impacts from the Coeymans project. Examples of the impacts that will result from the proposed Coeymans project include:

  • dredging impacts;
  • impacts from pile driving;
  • impacts to endangered Sturgeon species and other critical fish species;
  • loss of important benthic habitat;
  • impacts to water quality;
  • impacts from increased truck traffic and the use of massive “superload” trucks;
  • noise impacts on the surrounding communities and recreational areas; and
  • long-term and permanent impacts that are likely to linger even after (or because of) the removal after approximately 3-years in the River of this massive and unprecedented project at the Port of Coeymans.

Undertaking an environmental impact statement for this project is essential because it would compel the applicant and DEC to fully analyze these negative impacts and consider alternatives and mitigation measures to address them with transparency and ample public input.

There has been a conspicuous lack of public information and adequate notice on this project with no mention of this sub-assembly project on the New NY Bridge website (last visited September 8, 2014), a critical and necessary piece of the larger TZB Replacement project. The apparent rush to push this project through without the necessary environmental review, let alone the necessary permits, and without meaningful public participation must not be allowed.

While Riverkeeper has succeeded in preventing the illegal construction of the TZB Port of Coeymans sub-assembly site at this time, the organization is calling on the public to take action and urge DEC to rescind the Negative Declaration and issue a comprehensive environmental impact and permit review process that meaningfully incorporates public participation by the recently-extended comment deadline period of September 18, 2014.
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