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Two Nyacks With Issues Re: Tappan Zee DEIS

by Dave Zornow

Nyack, March 31 — Two Nyack River Villages wrote to the Tappan Zee Bridge project director last week with concerns about higher tolls, lost tax revenue, missing mass transit and improperly vetted environmental impacts. “The Village of Nyack asserts that the [TZB draft environmental statement] as written is flawed, incomplete, inadequate and insufficient under the law,” wrote Nyack Mayor Jen White in a letter to Michael Anderson, the director of New York State’s Hudson River Crossing Project.

The village which abuts bridge construction also cried foul about the DOT’s hurry up offense to build a new bridge. “The original Tappan Zee Bridge project had a devastating effect on South Nyack, cutting it in two,” said South Nyack Mayor Tish DuBow at last month’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement hearings. “The state now claims that the impacts to South Nyack of replacing the bridge are ‘insignificant.’ This is ridiculous.”  The South Nyack Village Board’s response to the state criticizes New York’s transportation department for glossing over important issues in its DEIS findings.

The complete text of the Village of Nyack’s  and South Nyack’s response is available online. Here are highlights of the DEIS comments from both villages.

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Village of Nyack

  • New tolls may take a heavy toll: The NYS DOT has been mum about what it will cost to cross a new TZB, but independent analyses say without federal funding it’s going to cost anywhere from $13-$30 — but probably come in around $16 a trip.  “The possibly drastic increases in tolls as a funding mechanism would have a devastating impact on the economy of the Village and the region as a whole, which impact has not been addressed in the DEIS,” Nyack says in their DEIS document. “Additionally, the failure to consider the effects of tolls without providing transit alternatives could result in a substantial and drastic change to the Village economy directly, to the region as a whole, and the second order effects of regional economic losses to the Village.”
  • DOT’s Tall Tales About BRT costs: The Tri-State Transportation Campaign released an analysis this week claiming the DOT’s analysis of bus mass transit on the bridge is “completely out of line with past state studies, other BRT projects, and the industry average.” When the DOT advocated for BRT prior to Oct 2011, the bus rapid transit system was projected to cost $897 million. Now that the governor has come out against including mass transit in the plan, the price of building BRT has more than quadrupled (between $4.5 and 5.3 billion). “The DEIS provides an estimate for Bus Rapid Transit that is drastically out of line with prior estimates and other similar projects in the country,” says Nyack.  TSTC says the industry average to build BRT is about $25 million a mile; the NYS DOT says BRT on the TZB would cost $150 million a mile.  “The State should not, on the one hand, dismiss transit options as being too expensive, while at the same time fail to analyze impacts and benefits of those transit options on all other measures.”
  • Sayonara to the sturgeon: “The DEIS has neglected to analyze impacts to the Critically Endangered Atlantic Sturgeon population, specifically as it neglects to address construction means and methods within the document.  We feel this to be an irresponsible approach as the Project is directly adjacent to their anadromous spawning grounds, and the discarded alternatives may impose much lower impacts to this and other species.” Nyack also notes that NYS DOT’s DEIS fails to address the existing PCB’s in river sediments and how construction and dredging activities would disturb these hazardous materials.

South Nyack

  • Show Me The Money: In addition to the noise, the temporary removal of the S. Broadway overpass connecting the village to 9W, losing a piece of the S. Nyack dog run/pocket park and compromised Hudson River views — there’s the matter of money. The handful of homes that the new TZB will take through eminent domain means less tax revenue for South Nyack. “The DEIS claims that no mitigation is required for local tax revenues lost due to property takings even though the Village of South Nyack has identified aggregate present value losses of more than $5 million,” writes the village to the DOT.
  • Lid Park Is Non-Starter: “It is well known that the Village of South Nyack is promoting an initiative to leverage the TZB replacement project with a coordinated plan to create an economic and recreational development including a ‘€œcap’€ or deck over I287 in the vicinity of Exit 10, directly adjacent to the project limits. The initiative’s primary goal is to bring economic sustainability to the Hudson River Villages Region.” Despite support from the public and elected representatives and a recommendation in the Rockland County Comprehensive Plan, the lid park isn’t part of the plan. “The project sponsors have spurned overtures from South Nyack and other regional officials to seriously study such integration issues and opportunities, instead retreating to a minimalist position that the project does not ‘preclude’ future projects.”
  • Your Bikes Are Our Burden: “The DEIS makes the unsubstantiated claim that the shared-use path terminus in South Nyack would connect to the Esposito Trail. In fact, nowhere in the DEIS is any specific mention made of how this would be accomplished, nor is there any analysis of the burden this terminus will place on the Village of South Nyack.” The South Nyack Board of Trustees said the shared use path will cause parking problems for village residents and it create public safety issues. “Adverse impacts of the addition of the shared-use path have not been studied.”
  • Views No More: Because the slope on the new bridge is more gradual than on the current TZB, it’s likely that residents will see more of the future bridge than see of the current bridge. “The DEIS facetiously claims that the redesigned South Broadway overpass will not be any more visible than the existing overpass in spite of the fact that it will have a superstructure in order to accommodate its new span without the current center column.”

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