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Riverkeeper Responds to Tappan Zee Bridge Environmental Review


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Contact: Tina Posterli, 914-478-4501 x 239, [email protected]

Department of Transportation fails to address alternatives and limits meaningful public participation

Ossining, NY – January 25, 2012 – Riverkeeper is calling on the state to slow its rush to reconstruct the Tappan Zee Bridge and stop undercutting the public’s right to argue for better alternatives. The draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) released by New York State Department of Transportation’s (DOT) yesterday provides only one option for consideration — an option that doesn’t even include mass transit — in spite of the fact that it has taken the state over a decade to develop its current proposal.

“The state’s DEIS shortchanges the public,” said Paul Gallay, President and Hudson Riverkeeper. “People deserve to know whether an on-the-cheap bridge is really preferable to a new bridge with real mass transit or even rehabilitation of the existing bridge, which state officials had, in the past, said could last up to 150 years, cost a billion less and still put a lot of people to work. The bottom line is that Governor Cuomo didn’t do the comparisons, and may have come up with the wrong answer for the region. At a cost of $5.2 billion, that’s not a mistake we can afford to make.”

Specifically, the DEIS on the proposed project:

  • Fails to include mass transit options, and by doing so, does not adequately address resulting traffic congestion as a contributor to pollution, ultimately affecting the Hudson River. Elected officials, including Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and Assemblymember Thomas Abinanti, have pointed out that Governor Cuomo’s proposed transit-less bridge would be “obsolete from day one.”
  • Does not consider alternatives that would lessen the impact on Hudson River ecology. This includes lack of a vigorous analysis as to why the new construction option is preferred over a complete rehabilitation of the current bridge or construction of a cross-Hudson tunnel.
  • Only includes a 4-mile span as opposed to the originally intended plan of the 30-mile I-287 corridor. Because the DEIS proposes to expand the Tappan Zee to 8 lanes of automotive traffic and traffic patterns will be significantly affected, the impacts of a massive new project that will shape traffic patterns for generations must be considered.
  • Does not have sufficient funding behind it to assure that negative environmental impacts of a new bridge are minimized.

The DOT has given the public only until March 15 to comment on its newly released DEIS, and scheduled just two hearings. Riverkeeper is calling for the public to send formal comments to DOT urging them to: take the hard look required by law at alternatives that will lessen the impact on the Hudson River, the region’s traffic and our climate, extend the public comment period and add more public hearings. Riverkeeper will be filing comprehensive, detailed comments at the end of the comment period, and will be fully engaged throughout the process as the project moves forward.

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