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Mario Cuomo Bridge

TZB: Damn the Environment, Full Speed Ahead

NYSDOT Green Lights DEIS; Environmentalists Fume
$16 Tolls On The Way?

by Dave Zornow

Nyack, Jan 27 — The New York State Department of Transportation released the Tappan Zee Bridge Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) this week and found no reason to back off Governor Cuomo’s aggressive plan to start construction next Fall. “Now that we understand the environmental effects of reconstructing the bridge, it is time to start laying out real construction plans,” said Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald.

Environmentalists and mass transit advocates — already on record as opposing the Cuomo plan — weren’t happy. “The DEIS suggests that the bridge replacement will have no negative air quality impact,” said the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “We regard this projection with skepticism, since previous environmental documents have said that public transportation was necessary to address congestion and pollution in the Hudson Valley.”

‘€œPeople deserve to know whether an on-the-cheap bridge is really preferable to a new bridge with real mass transit,” said Paul Gallay, President of Hudson Riverkeeper. “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.’€

“In claiming that the Tappan Zee Bridge meets the requirements of the smart growth law, the state elegantly shows just how much this bridge fails to meet the state’s purported development goals,” said StreetsBlog’s Noah Kazis. “A bridge with room for seven lanes of traffic on each span but no space for transit is exactly the kind of 1950s sprawl generator that the smart growth law should prohibit.”

The public is invited to comment on the DEIS at the Palisades Center on Feb 28 from 4-8p or by emailing

There’s still one big piece of the TZB puzzle that’s missing: finding $5.2 billion in financing to pay for the project. If no federal funding materializes, Streetsblog says the new TZB toll will be about $16. That’s consistent with the $15 back-of-the-envelope estimate that NYS DOT Project Finance Manager Phil Ferguson guestimated in 2010.

Project officials have been mum about both future tolls and construction financing. But you can bet that there will be hell to pay for politicians if motorists have to pay triple what they do today.


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