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Mario Cuomo Bridge

Talkin’ Tappan Zee: Tolls, Thruway, Tug Of Words

TZB_Proposal1_AtNight20121206by Dave Zornow

It’s been a big week for the big bridge project over the Hudson. There’s been praise for the Tappan Zee Bridge funding proposal announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo which will limit future toll increases; an explanation of the new bridge design in a national magazine; and continued sparring between the state and South Nyack officials about where the entrance will be for the New NY Bridge walkway over the Lower Hudson.

Show Me The Money

“The state will drive New York’s growth forward by… investing $1.3 billion in the Thruway system to keep tolls down and allow for critical repair and maintenance, support the construction of the Tappan Zee Bridge and alternative transit options,” says NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo’s in his 2015 Opportunity Agenda, a six-point plan to strengthen and modernize the state’s infrastructure.

“I am especially pleased that Governor Cuomo will use $1.2 billion of the state’s recent $5 billion bank settlement to support construction of the new Tappan Zee Bridge and hold down Thruway tolls,” said Rockland County Executive Ed Day.

A New Design For An Old Bridge

Do we really need a new bridge? An article in the February issue of Scientific American says we do — noting that the current TZB is “functionally obsolete” and “exemplifies America’s crumbling infrastructure.”

The article also gives a layman’s explanation of the cable-stayed design which will replace the existing cantilever bridge. “The design’s closest relative is the suspension bridge—the difference between the two lying largely in how the cables are strung. In a suspension structure, such as the Golden Gate Bridge, there are two sets of cables: primary cables that connect the towers to one another and secondary cables that hang from the first set and hold the roadbed in place. A cable-stayed bridge, in contrast, has only cables that run directly from the towers to the road. Suspension bridges also require large anchors—typically huge blocks of concrete—at either end to hold them in place, whereas the weight of the road deck of a cable-stayed bridge is balanced evenly on each side of its towers and so does not need anchors.” Cable-stayed bridges like the Tappan Zee II are now under construction in Los Angeles, Portland and Louisville. “They go up faster than alternative approaches and cost less because they use less material,” according to Scientific American.

The Empire State Fights Back

Just before Thanksgiving, South Nyack Bonnie Christian held a press conference to protest the location chosen by New York State for the future entrance to the path walkers and cyclists will use to cross the new Tappan Zee Bridge. The mayor said the Shared Use Path (SUP) site of Cornelison and South Broadway was foisted on the village without community input. The state countered that it was actually the village’s idea and that officials had met or spoken with South Nyack TZ  Task Force members over 45 times. Published notes from the village’s TZB committee supported the state’s story. In a community meeting on Tuesday night with local residents, Christian stuck to her story and said Cornelison was “just a concept” and that the village never vetted the idea with residents. Christian didn’t explain why South Nyack elected officials suggested the location if they didn’t think they had support for the idea.

Apparently, Thruway officials have had enough of the “he said, she said.” A mailer from the New NY Bridge Project to South Nyack residents forcefully responds to the mayor’s public assertions about the path — noting that the last time the mayor asked the Thruway to move the terminus, it cost the state $900,000 to do so.

Fiction: The current design for the…shared use path was forced on the Village of South Nyack without local input.

: Following a request from the village, the path’s access point was redesigned and relocated from Smith St to Cornelison Ave.

Fiction: The bike and pedestrian path will create unsafe conditions at the intersection of Cornelison and S Broadway.

: The New NY Bridge team…will pay for improvements to the intersection, [including] high-visibility crosswalks, improved traffic controls, traffic calming measures and safer turning spaces for vehicles including buses. An easy connect to the existing Esposito Rail Trail is also being considered to reduce the number of cyclists on local streets.

Fiction: There will be no public parking at Thruway Exit 10 after the new bridge is completed.

Fact: Several parking options are under study including public parking at Exit 10. Additionally, the Village of South Nyack has received a a $250,000 grant to study ways to redevelop Exit 10.

Source: New NY Bridge New Bicycle & Pedestrian Path Community Input mailer, January 2015. Bridge officials are seeking public comment on several of the proposed parking configurations by Feb 15 at

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