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Tappan Zee Bridge Public Meeting: A Study Guide

by Dave Zornow

Nyack, Oct 27 — If you are planning to attend today’s Tappan Zee Hudson River Crossing from 4-9p in the Adler Room on the top floor of the Palisades Center, here are nine things you should know:

  • The original $16B plan, called the Tappan Zee Bridge I-287 Corridor Project, included mass transit and road improvements and took over nine years and hundreds of public meetings to create. The revised $5.2 plan, less mass transit, was submitted for fast track approval on Mon Oct 10. It was approved by the Federal Highway Administration on Tues Oct 11 along with 13 other projects across the country.
  • If the new bridge provides relief from congestion, it will only be short-lived. “You can’t build your way out of congestion,” said Project Director Michael Anderson while addressing the Rockland County Legislature in October 2011. Anderson’s remarks were in support of the mass transit expenditures in the original plan. Traffic on the bridge is up 30% since 1990. According to TZB planners, there will be another 200,000 of us living in Rockland and Westchester taxing the Hudson crossing by 2047.
  • Although there’s no money in the plan for mass transit, there’s a tentative plan to put mass transit in a new lane between the spans — someday. Transit planners remind us that there was a similar someday plan to add commuter rail to the GWB which was dropped in favor of more car lanes.
  • Tolls will increase — but by how much? In October 2010, NYDOT’s Phil Ferguson offered a gloomy ballpark assessment about rebuilding the TZB without federal funding. ‘€œWe would only be able to bond $2 billion ‘€” far less than than the $8.3 billion needed to just build the bridge.’€ Ferguson’s scenario included, in his words, the ‘€œunrealistic’€ scenario of $15 tolls to cross the Hudson between Rockland and Westchester. The new funding scenario suggests bonding $3B — which is a bigger number than $2B.
  • Some have suggested that a good compromise might be to dump the trains (CRT) and keep the buses (BRT), but it’s not to clear what that might do for the Nyack River Villages and Piermont and Grandview. The BRT, as originally envisaged, would provide regular bus service along the I-287 corridor between Suffern and Port Chester. The closest BRT station would be constructed near the Old World Market and the Brink’s Robbery Memorial on Route 59. The CRT, with its proposed closest station at the Palisades Mall, promised a “one seat ride” from Rockland to Grand Central on existing Metro North commuter rail tracks.
  • Tunnel fans — who have always insisted that it’s cheaper to dig than to bridge — were dealt a serious blow with the revised scoping study.  Crossing planners say creating a five tube tunnel with the gradual grade required to climb the hill going into Central Nyack would have cost more, would take longer to build and would have remained underground until the Palisades Mall. And you think Rt 59 construction traffic by the mall is bad now…
  • Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner got himself some ink last week when he suggested that the current TZB be turned into a Walkway Over The Lower Hudson. It’s both a great idea and a dumb idea, as pointed out by Journal News columnist Phil Reisman, you have to tear down the current bridge to make room for the Southern span of the new bridge. Which just makes last week’s press a lot of wasted ink — as well as time and focus better spent on lobbying decision makers on restoring mass transit to the plan. Full disclosure: this might be a dumb idea, but I had it first. :>)
  • Public officials are pretty much unanimous about the need for mass transit, including strong statements from Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, NYS Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D – Tarrytown) and Nyack Trustees Jen White and Steve Knowlton. NyackNewsAndViews has invited elected officials in the river villages to share their POV on the new bridge plan after the meeting. And the public is always welcome to post and share their thoughts, too.
  • If you can’t make the meeting — or it isn’t your idea of fun to stand in front of a microphone and 500 people — the Internet is your friend. You can write to the TZB Crossing project people and Rockland’s representatives in Albany and Washington and let them know how you feel. In fact, one of them even twitters.

Illustration: Tappan Zee Bridge. Credit: Bill Batson/Nyack Sketch Log

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