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Mario Cuomo Bridge

Tappan Zee Bridge: Both Sides Now

by Joe Devoe

The director of the River Rowing Association, Joe Devoe, delivered the following remarks at the Westchester Public Hearings for the Tappan Zee Bridge Draft Environmental Statement on March 1, 2012.

The River Rowing Association, based in Nyack, is dedicated to improving the lives of members from surrounding communities through the sport of rowing.

This project seriously impacts our home on the Hudson River’s Western shore between Nyack and Piermont.  Together with the Piermont Rowing Club, we ply these waters nearly every day from May through early November.   We know, for example, that the existing bridge is 60 strokes from Grandview Village Hall and that it is 200 Strokes from the bridge to our dock in Nyack.

We understand the need for a new bridge, as you can see from this photograph from 2006.

The NYS DOT has ignored our letter submitted on November 9 2011 (with a petition showing the support of over 150 people) citing safety concerns for our rowers and your work crews during the construction period.

No mention of rowers use of the river is noted in the DEIS.  The only reference I could find is related to the Hudson River Greenway and quote ‘€œTemporary Disruptions to Small Water Craft Navigation beneath the bridge during the construction period can be expected’€.

Construction will last 4 – 5 years! It may be temporary in DOT parlance, however, it represents the time it takes to mold a gangly eighth grader into a NY State rowing champion.  Many of our youth row in college and receive scholarships to do so.  Over the past 3 years, River Rowing youth have rowed for Colgate, Marist, NY Maritime Academy, Syracuse, UC ‘€“ San Diego, Kenyon and Harvard among other schools.

This project seriously jeopardizes our ability to safely use these waters and thus our ability to survive as an organization.  We estimate that from May through November we have over 10,000 man days of use on the impacted section of the Hudson River.  This project will include a multi slip dock stretching into the river one third of a mile.  The dredging, tug, barge, crane and construction crew traffic will materially interfere with our ability to use these waters safely, as we have for years.

To be dismissed by the NY State Department of Transportation is insulting and raises the question what other concerns are being ignored or withheld from the public?

The safety of our rowers and the safety of your work crews is important to us and should be to you and this process.  Please incorporate our concerns into your review.

Joe Devoe is the director of the River Rowing Association in Nyack.

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