Environmental, Transit Groups to NY State: Tappan Zee Without Transit is Fatally Flawed

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The Tappan Zee Bridge (photo by Patsy Wooters via Flickr)

Environmental group Riverkeeper is calling New York State's plans for a new Tappan Zee Bridge "a a fatally flawed project that is obsolete from day one without mass transit, and would inflict severe damage on the Hudson River ecosystem."

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign says the state must figure out a way to include transit on the bridge.

The groups' comments were submitted in response to the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) released earlier this year. That statement, which is part of the review process the state must undergo for the project, says there are no compelling environmental barriers to constructing a new bridge. The period for public comment on the DEIS closed last week.

New York State wants to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge with a $5.2 billion span built so as to "not preclude" transit in the future, and has said that the cost of including a bus rapid transit corridor would be as expensive as building the bridge itself. But some environmental groups call those numbers flawed, and say that if the state doesn't include transit, the bridge will be outdated from the moment it opens.

“Governor Cuomo is trying to circumvent all of New York’s planning and public participation laws and ‘Robert Moses’ this project,” said Paul Gallay, Riverkeeper's president, in a statement. "The governor doesn’t get to make up his own rules, but even if he did, he’s getting this one all wrong. Riverkeeper is not about to stand by when so much damage to the river is about to be done by such a flawed project."

Kate Slevin, the executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, told TN "we're still hoping that the state will come to its senses and provide some provisions for transit in this project." She said there are still many unanswered questions about the project, and wants the state to address them before moving forward.

The New York State Thruway Authority, which is managing the project, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The state has previously said it will submit its final environmental impact statement to the federal government by July, and hopes to begin construction of the new bridge in late summer or early autumn.

Riverkeeper's comments can be found here. TSTC's comments, which are co-signed by several other groups, are here.