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Tappan Zee

Transportation Nation

Cuomo: "We Don't Know" True Cost of Tappan Zee — Or Its Future Tolls

Friday, September 26, 2014

New York's governor ruminates about how to figure out the cost of tolls.
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Transportation Nation

EPA Disqualifies Controversial Tappan Zee Loan

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

In a stunning rebuke to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the federal Environmental Protection Agency struck down a massive loan to one of the state's signature transportation projects.
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Transportation Nation

Tappan Zee Cost Reveals Cuomo Style

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

WNYC

New York's governor is building a new Tappan Zee Bridge, funded by tolls. How much more will drivers have to pay? He's not as forthcoming about that bit. 

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Transportation Nation

Obama Urges Infrastructure Push in Tappan Zee Speech

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

With the White House projecting the Highway Trust Fund will run out of money this summer, President Barack Obama visited the Tappan Zee Bridge to press Congress for a solution.

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Transportation Nation

Federal Loan Process for Tappan Zee Moves Forward

Thursday, September 26, 2013

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the state can now formally submit a loan request for its new $3.9 billion Tappan Zee Bridge.

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Transportation Nation

Year in Review New York: Sandy, Buses, Tappan Zee -- and Abandoned Bikes

Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 tested New York's transportation infrastructure like no other year in recent memory.

Sandy

Sandy's storm surge flooded hundred-year-old tunnels, drowned power stations, and inflicted a commuting nightmare on millions of Northeast residents for weeks. It also caused a mini-boom in bike ridership -- and elevated climate change to a hot topic in transportation planning.

New York and New Jersey were both hit hard, but each state planned --and responded --  differently. NJ Transit took heavy damage with major routes offline for weeks after parking trains in a flood plain, because, as one executive said, "we thought we had 20 years to respond to climate change." That decision cost the agency $100 million. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was also hit by unprecedented flooding. While in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo is saying the next generation of infrastructure must take climate change into consideration, we learned that across the river, Governor Chris Christie had deep-sixed his state's climate change research department.

The NYC subway was known to be vulnerable to a powerful storm surge, and flooded as predicted. In the storm's aftermath, the agency furiously tweeted updates and churned out service maps with lightning speed - .gif -- impressing even traditionally harsh critics. But while much of the damage was dealt with quickly, other assets -- like the South Ferry subway station, and the A train out to the Rockaways -- remain unrestored. Also unclear: how the agency will cover the $5 billion in damages. So far, the plan is to take on debt rather than pile on to an already scheduled fare hike.

Our complete Sandy coverage is here.

The entrance to the downtown 1 train at Broadway and 79th Street, pre-storm (photo by Kate Hinds)

A New Tappan Zee Bridge Moves from Idea to Design Plan

The aging Tappan Zee Bridge is being replaced at the cost of several billion dollars -- making it the largest contract ever awarded in New York State. After a lengthy debate about adding transit, which some argued should at least include a plan for bus rapid transit, Cuomo said speed and cost outweighed the merits of adding a rail line.  Transit advocates howled, and some key county officials held up a vote -- but the governor's vision ultimately prevailed: the bridge will be 'transit-ready' -- meaning plans for a rail link or a fully iterated BRT line have been tabled for a future date.

Meanwhile, the issue of how to pay for the bridge has yet to be resolved. The bridge wasn't included in the first round of federal TIFIA loans; the state has since re-applied. The governor said the brunt of the cost would come from tolls -- but the backlash to the idea of a $14 crossing was swift.  A builder was chosen this month (see pics) and work will begin after the state comptroller okays the contract. The new bridge is scheduled to open in 2018.

And no, the old bridge won't be preserved as a greenway. The NY State Thruway Authority -- the agency in charge of the project -- will demolish it.

The winning Tappan Zee design

Street Safety Investigations

We'll have more on this in the new year, but our work on monitoring safe streets in NYC continued with two investigative reports. In our report "Walking While Poor" we found that, in New Jersey, it is more dangerous to be a pedestrian in low income neighborhoods.

And in New York City, our report Killed While Cycling, uncovered why so few fatal bike crashes lead to arrest. The laws just aren't written to punish vehicle crashes with a criminal response and the NYPD has just 19 detectives assigned to investigate criminality when a car or truck hits someone or something. The department argues more lives can be saved by preventative methods, like speed traps. The result, families of those killed on NYC streets rarely feel justice is done.

After deadly crashes, Chinatown buses wane -- and Bolt and Megabus move in.

New York was the original nexus of a curbside bus network that became known as Chinatown buses because they picked up passengers from unofficial bus stops in Chinatowns up and down the Northeast corridor. But the busy corner under the Manhattan Bridge that was once the nexus of this travel network is now mostly empty.

After a deadly year of crashes in 2011, many said the industry was unsafe. While confused travelers tried to figure out just who regulates Chinatown buses, the government took notice. In June, the U.S. DOT shut down 26 bus companies that operate along the most popular routes: the I-95 corridor from New York to Florida. The DOT called it the “largest single safety crackdown in the agency’s history." 

And while some Chinatown buses are still discreetly operating, they're losing market share: mainstream bus companies like Greyhound are expanding their curbside businesses, actively meeting with community boards to add stops in Chinatown itself.

The driver of the bus crash that killed 15 in 2011, Ophadell Williams, was acquitted of manslaughter charges in December.

Abandoned Bikes

This is one story that became way bigger than we expected. It started out simply enough: Transportation Nation asked readers to help map all of the abandoned bikes in New York City. (For those unfamiliar with NYC: abandoned bikes are strewn about our sidewalks like cigarette butts after a party, the detritus of modern mobility.) We wanted to know how many of these bike carcasses there were, and why they stayed so long encumbering walkways, taking up prime bike parking without being removed by authorities.

The response was overwhelming, both for our humble project and for the city. We found more than 500 busted bikes, cataloged in photos sent in from WNYC listeners. We mapped them through an online civic action platform (SeeClickFix )that anyone could update.

When we began to get inquiries from artists and abandoned bike fans (yes, they exist), we picked out our favorite bike photos from the stack and shared them with each other. WNYC listeners called in to confess and explained why they left cycles to rust away. The project spread to Washington, D.C. A nonprofit offered to recycle them. Several photographers sent in links to their own portfolios of abandoned bike art. And so we collected authentic abandoned bikes and turned them into an art exhibit. Meanwhile, the city also promised to collect more of them as they streamlined the process for reporting and removal.

See the full project here.

Ragged rusty bikes hide within the sleek and modern Jerome L. Greene Performance Space

Lost Subways of New York

We kicked off 2012 with a look at the subway system that never was: dozens of tunnels and platforms that were either abandoned or were built but never used. They form a kind of ghost system that reveals how the city’s transit ambitions have been both realized and thwarted.

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Transportation Nation

New York Chooses Builder for $3.1 Billion Tappan Zee Bridge Replacement

Monday, December 17, 2012

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (R), with advisor Brian Conybeare, standing in front of a model of the new design. (Image courtesy of @NYGovCuomo)

UPDATE: It's official: New York has awarded the contract to construct the new Tappan Zee Bridge.

In a press release, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said, “the Thruway Board has selected the Tappan Zee Constructors’ plan which offers New York toll payers the biggest bang for their buck – with the best price, shortest construction time, minimal dredging, and can accommodate mass transit in the future. This is a major milestone for a bridge project that was a metaphor for the dysfunction of government and is now a national model for progress.”

Earlier Monday, Tom Madison, the executive director of the New York State Thruway Authority, said he was supporting a $3.1 billion plan to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge.

The (presumptive) new Tappan Zee Bridge. (New York Thruway Authority)

The board unanimously approved the contract at its meeting on Monday.

The wining design was recommended by a selection committee earlier this month.  At $3.1 billion, it's the least expensive of the three design finalists; Madison pointed out that with a construction time of five years, 2.5 months, it's also the fastest to build. It's one of the largest contracts ever executed in New York -- and it will be the first project constructed under the state's new design-build legislation.

The winning bidder is Tappan Zee Constructors -- a consortium led by Fluor Enterprises, Inc.. One of the team members is American Bridge -- the company which constructed the original Tappan Zee back in 1955.

No financing plan is yet in place to construct the bridge. Cuomo reiterated Monday "the tolls on the Tappan Zee will be one of the main funding sources for that bridge." The state is also waiting to see if the federal government will approve its request for a $2.9 billion TIFIA loan.

New York's comptroller has to sign off on the contract.

 

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Transportation Nation

Feds Gives Final OK to Tappan Zee Bridge Replacement

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

(photo by duluoz cats via flickr)


The federal government has given its final approval to New York State's plans to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge. It's the final regulatory hurdle the $5 billion project had to cross before the state could award a contract and begin construction.

In a conference call with reporters Tuesday morning, Governor Andrew Cuomo was elated by the Department of Transportation's decision, which is the result of a year-long sprint by his administration to fast-track plans to replace the 56-year old bridge linking Westchester and Rockland Counties.

"From my point of view, that was the most difficult step all along here," Cuomo said. "Building the bridge is actually the easy part. Relative to the environmental review, it's a straightforward task. "

The environmental review is a 10,000 page document laying out the environmental impact the project will have on the surrounding Hudson River area -- and demonstrates how the state will conform to federal law.

"It doesn't build the bridge -- we still have to pick a contractor, we still have to work out the financing," said the governor, "but the environmental review is basically completed."

The state is currently reviewing bids from three contractors. Once a team is picked, which is expected to be later this year, it will be constructing the bridge under New York's new design-build legislation. Last week, the governor named a design team to help review the bids and provide aesthetic guidance.

But one big question has yet to be answered: how the state will pay for the new bridge. New York is in the process of requesting a low-interest loan from the federal government, and Cuomo has said that the basic source of financing will come from tolls. But the state has yet to release a comprehensive finance plan.

Still, the governor said, the hardest step was in the rear-view mirror. "I'm going to exhale today," he said.

 

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Transportation Nation

New York Governor Cuomo Names New Design Review Team for Tappan Zee Bridge

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Earlier this summer New York Governor Cuomo promised that a "blue ribbon selection committee" would review designs for the new $5.2 billion Tappan Zee Bridge. And on Wednesday morning, he named the members.

Artist Jeff Koons, architect Richard Meier, and Metropolitan Museum of Art director Thomas Campbell provide star power for "The Bridge Design Aesthetic Team," which is tasked with recommending a final design for the new bridge.

The state is currently reviewing the bids from the three finalists for the project and will select one later this year.

Cuomo had promised to put a design review team in place to address aesthetic concerns about what the final bridge would look like.

But in his announcement today, he wouldn't be pinned down on what the team was looking for. "I think we'll know it when we see it," the governor said. "We want an attractive design that enhances the region." He added that the Tappan Zee, which connects Rockland and Westchester Counties, spans "a magnificent part of the Hudson River" and "design is an important element here."

But the governor's press release makes it clear that the team's job is advisory. "When the review team has made its recommendation," it reads, "a final formal decision will be made by the Thruway Authority, subject to the approval of its Board."

 The full press release is below.

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GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES TEAM OF ARTISTS, TECHNICAL EXPERTS, AND COMMUNITY LEADERS TO HELP SELECT FINAL BRIDGE DESIGN FOR TAPPAN ZEE PROJECT

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a selection review team for the new bridge to replace the Tappan Zee. The review team will include internationally renowned artists and architects, under the auspices of the New York State Council of the Arts, who will review proposed bridge designs as well as assist local community leaders and transportation experts in the evaluation process.

The artists and experts who will review the designs include:· Jeffrey Koons, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
· Richard Meier, a Pritzker Prize winning architect and Gold Medal awardee for architecture from the Academy of Arts and Letters
· Thomas P. Campbell, Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
· Keith Brownlie, an internationally acclaimed bridge designer"Another day, another big step toward building a new bridge to replace the Tappan Zee which will be stronger, safer, better as well as one which will live up to the beauty and splendor of the Hudson River," Governor Cuomo said. "For this project, we are creating a different kind of review team – it’s a team that combines technical experts, architectural experts, local experts as well as artists to ensure the new bridge is the best choice and fit for the region."

The selection process will evaluate the technical quality of the proposals in conjunction with pricing information, to identify the proposal that offers the best value to New York State. The "best value" approach, made possible by the design-build legislation enacted by Governor Cuomo last year, looks at factors such as design and long-term quality of the project to ensure that the proposal chosen meets the needs of the region, the transportation system and toll payers.

Specifically, the selection review team will be evaluating the best value of each bid based on criteria stated in the RFP, which generally include:· Best price for toll payers
· Bridge structure and design
· Investment in future transit options, including BRT and rail
· Traffic management plan
· Plan for working collaboratively with community and local stakeholders
· Ability to meet strict environmental requirements
· Construction plan
· Bridge lifespan
· Geotechnical for bridge foundations
· History and experience of design-build team
The review team members will undergo rigorous procurement training before beginning the bid evaluation process as required by federal procurement law. Once the evaluation process is complete, the review team has a number of options before it sends a final recommendation to the Governor. The team can:· Recommend one of the three bids submitted in July
· Authorize negotiations with one or more bidders based on its submission
· Authorize a request for a best and final offer from multiple bidders.
When the review team has made its recommendation, a final formal decision will be made by the Thruway Authority, subject to the approval of its Board.

MEMBERS OF BRIDGE DESIGN AESTHETIC TEAM

Jeffrey Koons: Artist
Internationally recognized artist Jeff Koons is widely known for his iconic sculptures Rabbit and Balloon Dog as well as his monumental floral works Puppy and Split-Rocker. His work has been exhibited extensively around the world. Working with everyday objects, his work revolves around themes of self-acceptance and transcendence. Koons has received numerous awards and honors in recognition of his cultural achievements. Most recently, the Royal Academy of Arts presented Koons with the John Singleton Copley Award, Governor Ed Rendell presented Koons with The Governor’s Awards for the Arts - Distinguished Arts Award, and President Jacques Chirac promoted Koons to Officier de la Legion d’Honneur. He has become a fervent advocate for protecting children and has served six years on the board of directors for the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC). With both the International and National Centers for Missing and Exploited Children, Mr. Koons developed the Koons Family International Law and Policy Institute in 2007, with the purpose of combating child abduction and exploitation. Koons lives and works in New York City.

Mr. Koons said, "As an artist I'm honored to participate as a voice to try to help assure an aesthetic Tappan Zee Bridge project. It's a wonderful opportunity for our generation to contribute to a project that will not only enhance everyday life but help define a sense of place for New York."

Richard Meier: Architect
Richard Meier received his architectural training at Cornell University and established his own office in New York City in 1963. Since that time his international practice has encompassed major cultural and civic commissions as well as private residences and corporate and academic facilities. He has received the highest honors in the field including the Pritzker Prize for Architecture, the Gold Medals of the American Institute of Architects and the Royal Institute of British Architects as well as the Praemium Imperiale from the Japan Art Association. He is best known for the Getty Center in Los Angeles; the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art; and the Jubilee Church in Rome. His current work includes the Mitikah Office Tower in Mexico City, Mexico; a condominium complex in Jesolo, Italy; the Rothschild tower in Tel Aviv, Israel; two residential towers in Tokyo, Japan; two hospitality and commercial projects in Mexico; a hotel in South Korea; a condominium tower in Taiwan; the Leblon Offices in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and private residences in Europe, Asia and North America.

Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Since becoming the ninth Director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2009, Thomas P. Campbell has pursued an agenda that focuses on scholarship and accessibility. These priorities maintain the Museum’s excellence in its exhibitions, publications, acquisitions, and permanent collections, while encouraging new thinking about the visitor experience. Prior to his appointment, Campbell was a curator in the Metropolitan's Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts for 14 years, where he organized two major exhibitions on Renaissance and Baroque tapestry.

Mr. Campbell said, "I was very pleased to be asked by Governor Cuomo to become a member of the artistic design committee for the new bridge. I am well aware—as a former resident of the Hudson Valley and as director of a great museum holding a distinguished collection of Hudson River School paintings, which portray the majestic beauty of the region—of the great significance that the project holds from a practical as well as aesthetic standpoint. It’s a privilege to work on a project so important to New York, one that will serve such an important practical purpose while preserving and honoring the scale and scenery of the area."

Alison Spear AIA, LEED AP : Architect
Alison Spear is a local and LEED certified architect licensed to work in New York as well as other states and is presently a Senior Designer with Ennead Architects, (formerly James Polshek & Partners), in New York City. Spear was formerly the principal of her architectural and design firm, Alison Spear AIA in Wappingers Falls, New York City and Miami, Florida. She has taught at several universities including University of Miami School of Architecture, Parson’s School of Design and a visiting critic Syracuse University School of Architecture and University of Toronto. She has received several awards including the Design Star Award from the Design Center of the Americas and was named the 2005 Interior Architect of the Year by the American Institute of Architects. Spear is a resident of the Hudson Valley.

Keith Brownlie: Bridge Architect
Keith Brownlie is a leading international Bridge Architect specializing in the design of major infrastructure and engineering projects worldwide. He has been responsible for shaping numerous landmark bridge structures including the Gateshead Millennium and Twin Sails Bridges in the United Kingdom, the Metsovitikos Crossing in Greece and the Sutong Yangtze River Bridge in China. He has also directed the architectural design of many significant infrastructure projects including High Speed One rail link in the UK and the 18km Fehmarnbelt Tunnel between Germany and Denmark, as well as super high rise buildings such as the 1450ft Guangzhou International Finance Centre in China. Projects with which he has been involved have received the highest international architecture and engineering awards, including the RIBA Stirling Prize in the United Kingdom, the Arthur G. Hayden Medal in the United States and the Balthasar Neumann Prize in Germany. Brownlie graduated from Brighton School of Architecture and the Mackintosh School of Architecture at the Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow University. He is a chartered member of the Royal Institute of British Architects, The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland and a member of the International Association of Bridge and Structural Engineers.

Thomas Wermuth: Director, Hudson River Valley Institute & Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty, Marist College
Thomas Wermuth is a published expert on the social and economic history of the Hudson Valley. He is editor of the book series, “The Hudson River Valley: An American Region,” which focuses on the history, culture, literature and tourism of the Valley. He was an associate editor of the Encyclopedia of New York State and author of
Rip Van Winkle's Neighbors: The Transformation of Rural Society in the Hudson River Valley and edited America's First River: The Hudson, published by the State University of New York Press. He serves on the Executive Board of the New York Academy of History and is chair of the editorial board of the Hudson River Valley Review. He resides in Harrison, Westchester County.

MEMBERS OF THE SELECTION COMMITTEE

State Representatives
Brandon Sall, Chairman of Selection Committee
Brandon Sall is a member of the Thruway Board of Directors and a partner at Sall & Geist and Gellert & Rodner, located in White Plains. Sall has vast experience with real estate law and knowledge of the process involved with land transactions. He is admitted to the Bar in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Florida and is a member of the New York State Bar Association. Sall received his B.B.A from the University of Miami and attended the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City. He resides in Harrison.

Nuria Fernandez
Nuria Fernandez is Chief Operating Officer of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). She previously served as Senior Vice President of CH2M Hill, a firm that provides engineering, construction, and operations services for businesses and governments throughout the world. Prior to that, Fernandez served as Commissioner for the Chicago Airport System, where she directed all airport operations, planning, engineering, and management services for O'Hare and Midway International Airports, the second busiest airport system in the world. She has also served in executive positions at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, and the Chicago Transit Authority.

Joan McDonald
Joan McDonald is Commissioner of the New York State Department of Transportation. Commissioner McDonald previously served as commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development for the State of Connecticut, as Senior Vice President of Transportation for the New York City Economic Development Corporation, and as the Vice President in charge of New York and New Jersey at Jacobs Engineering. She began her transportation career as Deputy Commissioner for Planning and Traffic Operations for the New York City DOT and as the Director of Capital and Long Range Planning for the MTA Metro-North Railroad.

Karen Rae
Karen Rae is Deputy Secretary for Transportation in the Executive Chamber. Prior to joining the Cuomo Administration, she served as Deputy Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration in the Obama Administration, where she managed the federal high speed rail initiative and developed national freight and passenger rail policy. She also served as Director of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, including negotiating and executing the multi-billion dollar public-private partnership contract for the Dulles rail project. She was previously General Manager of transit systems in Austin, Texas, Glens Falls and Buffalo. Rae was also Deputy Commissioner of Policy and Planning at the New York State DOT, where she was responsible for finance, planning and policy, and Deputy Secretary of the Pennsylvania DOT, where she led the creation of a streamlined, performance-based funding program for transit.

Community Representatives
Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef
County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef has designated County Commissioner of Planning Thomas B. Vanderbeek, P.E., to represent Rockland County on the Selection panel. Vanderbeek has a wealth of experience with respect to facilities and water supply planning, having successfully worked with major governmental agencies including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, as well as Rockland County’s towns and villages. He is a licensed professional engineer specializing in civil and environmental engineering as well as water resources planning. For eight years, he was a member of the Rockland County Planning Board. Vanderbeek also served as Stony Point Town Engineer and was project manager and engineer in the development of sewer systems in western Ramapo, overseeing environmental impact study, survey and design. Vanderbeek has a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Princeton University and is a member of the state Fire Prevention and Building Codes Council, the Rockland County Parks Commission and the National Society of Professional Engineers.

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino
County Executive Rob Astorino has designated County Department of Planning Commissioner Edward Buroughs to represent Westchester County on the Selection panel. Buroughs’s career has since 1980 focused on municipal planning in Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties, following earlier experience in county and town governments in Pennsylvania. Prior to joining the county staff in 1994, he served as Director of Planning for the towns of Somers and Lewisboro in Westchester and as consulting town planner for the town of Carmel in Putnam County. He earned a Masters of City and Regional Planning from Rutgers University and a
B.A. from the University of Delaware.

Village of South Nyack Mayor Tish Dubow
Mayor Tish Dubow has designated Richard L. Kohlhausen to represent the Village of South Nyack on the Selection panel. Kohlhausen was appointed to the SUNY Rockland Community College Board of Trustees by Governor Pataki and was reappointed by Governor David Paterson. He also serves as President of the Board of Nyack Hospital, and formerly served as President of the Nyack School Board and as a Member of the Board of the Edwin Gould Academy in Ramapo. A West Virginia native, Kohlhausen moved to Rockland more than 30 years ago and currently resides in South Nyack. He has worked as a chemical engineer in the pharmaceutical industry, and now works in the insurance industry for Capitol Risk Management Services, Ltd. in Nanuet. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from New York University and an M.B.A. from Iona College, New York.

Village of Tarrytown Mayor Drew Fixell
Mayor Drew Fixell has designated David Aukland to represent the Village of Tarrytown on the Selection panel. Aukland is a member of the Village's five-person Planning Board, to which he was appointed in 2006. His work for the Village has included reviews of the implications of various Tappan Zee Bridge replacement proposals with the Mayor and other officials, as well as other activities relating to the future development of the Village. Prior to his formal association with the Village of Tarrytown, Aukland worked for IBM. After early work in the United Kingdom, he spent fifteen years at the company's European headquarters in Paris, France.

Technical Experts
Al Biehler
Al Bielher is a Distinguished Service Professor of Transportation Systems and Policy at the H. John Heinz III College at Carnegie Mellon University, Executive Director of the University Transportation Center, and an adjunct professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department in the Engineering College at Carnegie Mellon. He previously served for eight years as Secretary of the Pennsylvania DOT, leading an organization that operated the nation’s fifth largest state highway system and administered one of the country’s largest grant programs for mass transit, rail freight, and aviation. As Secretary, he launched a program known as Smart Transportation to streamline and stabilize Pennsylvania’s transit program. In 2009, Biehler was elected President of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, where he helped to create the State Smart Transportation Initiative to assist state transportation agencies wishing to accelerate sustainable practices. Prior to his post at DOT, he was a Vice President with the international transportation consulting firm DMJM-Harris, where he was project manager for preliminary engineering of the North Shore LRT Connector project in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Director of Planning and Preliminary Engineering for extension of the Tren Urbano rail system in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Earlier, Biehler was Director of Planning, Engineering and Construction at Port Authority of Allegheny County, in charge of the agency’s $500 million capital improvement program. He received a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh, and a masters-equivalent Certificate in Highway Transportation from Yale University. He is a registered professional engineer in Pennsylvania.

Gene McGovern
Gene McGovern is widely known and respected as a manager of large construction projects. In 1979, he co-founded Lehrer McGovern Inc., which ultimately became a part of the construction industry leader now known as Bovis Lend Lease. Lehrer McGovern was the construction manager for the mid-1980s restoration of the Statue of Liberty, and worked on other high-profile projects including renovations of Grand Central Station and Ellis Island and the construction of Euro Disney and London’s Canary Wharf business district.

Robert Yaro
Robert Yaro is President of Regional Plan Association (RPA), the nation's oldest independent metropolitan policy, research, and advocacy group. He led development of and co-authored RPA's Third Regional Plan, A Region at Risk, and has authored and co-authored numerous papers and articles on planning and infrastructure for the five boroughs of New York City and the metropolitan region. He founded and co-chairs America 2050, RPA's initiative to create a national development and infrastructure plan. He is co-chair of the Empire State Transportation Alliance, on the board of the Forum for Urban Design, and an honorary member of the Royal Town Planning Institute. Yaro holds a Masters in City and Regional Planning from Harvard University and a B.A. in Urban Studies from Wesleyan University. In addition to leading RPA, Yaro is a professor of practice at the University of Pennsylvania and has consulted on city and regional planning issues across the United States and in Europe, China, Japan, Turkey, and North Africa.

TECHNICAL ADVISORS

Mark Roche, Senior Technical Advisor
Mark Roche is a Principal of Arup and leads its Highways Business in the Americas. A civil and structural engineer, Mr. Roche has worked in the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia and the Americas on a wide range of complex multi-disciplinary bridge, rail and highway projects where innovation and constructability have been key issues. His bridge experience includes post-tensioned segmental, arch and cable-stayed plus other more common bridge forms. He has extensive experience with bridges and other structures in high seismic activity zones and areas of high environmental forces. He brings innovation and value to projects with his knowledge of bridge aesthetics, risk and extensive experience on design-build projects.

Robert Brownstein, Procurement Expert
Robert Brownstein is Vice President of AECOM and an internationally-recognized expert with 40 years of experience in infrastructure related industries, with particular expertise in procurement and project development. He has served as a procurement advisor for numerous public agencies throughout the United States and other countries. He is a frequent speaker at conferences throughout the world.

Steven Polan, Counsel to the Selection Committee
Steven Polan is a partner at Manatt, Phelps and Phillips. He represents government agencies and contractors worldwide in the development and construction of significant transportation infrastructure projects. He was general counsel for an international construction and engineering company, and previously served as Commissioner of Sanitation for the City of New York and as General Counsel of the MTA.

Construction
Jay Bayersdorfer
Jay Bayersdorfer is the Chief Estimator for AECOM NYC Metro and has over 29 years of experience in all types of heavy and civil construction. His experience includes planning, costing and implementation of heavy/highway projects, underground utility construction, complex excavations for underground structures, earth support systems, slurry walls, groundwater control, environmental remediation, heating, energy, and ventilation and air conditioning systems.

Donald Phillips
Donald Phillips is a Principal of Arup, a member of the Arup Americas Board and Chair of Arup's Transport Market in the Americas, with a particular focus on major projects in the fields of transport, civil structures, bridges, tunnels and heavy civil engineering. He currently holds senior management and engineering positions on a number of projects that include Lake Mead Intake #3, A30 P3 Highway project in Montreal, and California High Speed Rail Los Angeles to Fresno Segments. He was chairman of the Association of California High Speed Trains. He also acts as a reviewer and provides support and expert advice on major infrastructure projects and has been an expert on several legal cases.

Environmental
Robert Conway
Robert Conway is an environmental engineer with over 30 years of experience in the environmental assessment of complex infrastructure and development projects. He has led the environmental review and permitting processes for a number of major transportation projects in the region including the Long Island Rail Road Eastside Access Project, New York State DOT Route 9A Reconstruction Project, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey World Trade Center Permanent Path Terminal and Bayonne Bridge, the Cross Harbor Freight Tunnel, New Jersey Transit and Amtrak Portal Bridge Project, and New York City DOT Belt Parkway Bridges Program.

Financial
Thomas Kellerman, CFA
Thomas Kellerman, CFA is a senior vice president with Ernst & Young Infrastructure Advisors. He pioneered a methodology to evaluate and optimize project finance deals and developed an analytical tool based on this methodology. He has years of experience in asset valuation, capital markets, simulation modeling, risk analysis and mitigation and financial structuring. He has worked on a wide range of public sector projects including the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey Goethals Bridge Replacement Project and Illinois DOT Elgin-O’Hare West Bypass, as well as a range of major projects for the Florida Department of Transportation. He has a B.S. from Virginia Polytechnic University and an M.B.A. from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Jeffrey A. Parker
Jeffrey Parker is a senior managing director of Ernst & Young Infrastructure Advisors. One of the nation’s leading advisors on public-private partnerships and financial planning for transportation projects, he played a key role in helping to bring to fruition projects including the Port of Miami Tunnel and I-595 public-private partnerships and the Miami Intermodal Center, the largest intermodal complex in the U.S. He is currently an advisor on the Georgia Multi-Modal Transportation Project, a mixed-use redevelopment and intermodal complex in downtown Atlanta. He is a graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Robert Megna
Robert L. Megna is New York State's Budget Director, where he is responsible for the overall development and management of the State’s fiscal policy, including overseeing the preparation of budget recommendations for all State agencies and programs, economic and revenue forecasting, tax policy, fiscal planning, capital financing and management of the State’s debt portfolio, as well as pensions and employee benefits. Mr. Megna previously served as the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, responsible for overseeing the collection and accounting of more $90 billion in State and local taxes, the administration of State and local taxes, including New York City and City of Yonkers income taxes and the processing of tax returns, registrations and associated documents.

Before joining the Department of Taxation and Finance, Mr. Megna served as head of the Economic and Revenue Unit of the New York State Division of Budget, as Assistant Commissioner for Tax Policy for the Commonwealth of Virginia, as Director of Tax Studies for the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, and as Deputy Director of Fiscal Studies for the Ways and Means Committee of the New York State Assembly.

Geotechnical Advisors
Tony Canale
Tony Canale has been involved in managing a wide range of design projects covering transportation, private development, and public structures. He has been responsible for traditional geotechnical studies, such as laboratory testing of undisturbed soil samples, consolidation settlement estimates, slope stability analyses, seepage analyses, and rock bolting design. Canale’s design projects have included foundation recommendations for high-rise structures in Manhattan such as One Bryant Park, the New York Times headquarters and Times Square Tower. He has been involved in projects that required piled foundations and caissons such as the new Mets baseball stadium, Citi Field, and the East River Plaza Retail Center in upper Manhattan. He has also worked on the Tappan Zee Bridge Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) project over the past nine years. During that time, he has supervised several subsurface investigations and the recently completed pile installation demonstration program, and was the primary author of several foundation related reports that were included in the EIS report.

Tony Kiefer
Tony Kiefer is a project manager and project principal for geotechnical and civil engineering projects with AECOM. He is responsible for management and principal review of complex projects, and his experience includes scheduling, design of explorative programs, supervision of support personnel, and writing and reviewing of reports with engineering recommendations.

Hugh Lacy
Hugh Lacy is a partner with Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers (MRCE). He is an expert in underpinning, protecting existing structures during adjacent construction, and ground freezing technology. He was instrumental in developing the frozen soil testing capability for MRCE's in-house soil laboratory as a state-of-the art facility, and the only private lab in the United States that offers these services. He directs numerous high profile projects involving tunnels, subways and shafts, bridge foundations, building foundations and deep basements, wastewater facilities, dams, and the majority of the firm's work in Washington, DC. He specializes in geotechnical investigations, analysis of probable foundation performance, pile foundation performance, pile foundations, design and construction of building and waste water facility foundations, railroad structures and tunnels, associated dewatering and excavation support including ground freezing.

Legal
Peter W. Denton
Peter Denton is an attorney with Nossaman’s Infrastructure Practice Group, advising clients on design-build and other innovative contracts for development of major transportation projects. These projects include the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s intercity passenger rail system, the Virginia DOT Midtown Tunnel project, the North Carolina DOT I-77 HOT Lanes project, the Georgia DOT West by Northwest Managed Lanes Project and the Sonoma-Marin Area Rapid Transit District’s commuter rail project.

Management
Tom Cascino
Tom Cascino is Vice President in charge of AECOM’s upstate New York transportation business practice, covering all design and construction inspection services. He has worked on multiple design-build projects, including the Gauley Bridge in West Virginia, and has a wide breadth of experience with staff throughout the region and with various New York State agencies, including the New York State Thruway Authority and New York State DOT.

Charles Dwyer
Charles Dwyer is a Program Director with AECOM with over 20 years of experience in the procurement and management of design-build projects. His skills include planning, design and construction of highways and bridges, and he formerly worked as the design-build project manager at the South Carolina DOT for the new Ravenel Bridge mega-project in Charleston. His responsibilities included budget, schedule, quality, public relations, partner/dispute resolution, and environmental agency coordination.

David Palmer
David Palmer is a principal consultant to Arup. He has extensive U.S. and international experience in the planning, design and construction of major infrastructure projects in rail transit, highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, ports and harbors. He has recently been principal-in-charge for the design of Second Avenue Subway and Fulton Street Transit Center in New York City and the Tappan Zee Corridor. He provided construction management for New Jersey Transit new Hudson River tunnels, the California High Speed Rail Los Angeles to Fresno segments, and numerous other projects throughout the Americas.

Operations & Security
Jerry Gluck
Jerry Gluck is a senior manager at AECOM with more than 30 years of experience in transportation planning and traffic engineering. His vast experience comes from both the private and governmental sectors and includes highway operations/planning, access management and system analysis. He has directed major studies including the Long Island Expressway Capacity Improvement Project, and has a unique knowledge of access management from his involvement supporting numerous state DOTs.

Procurement
K. Gunalan
Mr. Gunalan is a vice president of global alternative delivery with AECOM with 30 years of engineering and construction experience throughout North America. He has served on both the owner’s and contractor’s sides in many alternative delivery projects, and most recently as the lead for development of technical requirements for the $1 billion Presidio Parkway public-private partnership project in California.

Peter Matusewitch
Peter Matusewitch is an associate engineer with Arup, with expertise in structural design, rehabilitation, planning studies, cost estimates and inspection of fixed and movable bridges. His strength is in the technical leadership of diverse aspects of planning and design of bridges. He served as the technical coordinator for an Airport Taxiway Bridge in Cancun, Mexico and for two major river crossings on a 42km-long design-build-operate project to extend Autoroute 30 around Montreal, Quebec. The coordination included seismic design, foundations, prestressed concrete beam fabrication issues and environmental issues.

Mark Swatta
Mark Swatta is a market segment director for AECOM’s Alterative Delivery Group and a structural engineer with over 39 years of project delivery experience. His diverse background includes structural analysis, design, and construction and project management capabilities, particularly in the transportation industry. He was recently a project director on Florida’s $1 billion Port of Miami Tunnel public-private partnership project.

Public Outreach
Dr. Arnold Bloch
Dr. Arnold Bloch is the principal in charge of the New York Office of Howard/Stein-Hudson Associates (HSH), and has more than 36 years of experience in the private, public, and academic sectors. At HSH, he has overseen hundreds of public involvement projects, including many projects for state DOTs, and most recently he has been in charge of HSH’s efforts on the Tappan Zee Bridge/I-287 Environmental Review and the Tappan Zee Hudson River Crossing Project.

Jennie Granger
Jennie Granger serves as a project manager and planning market segment leader for AECOM. Her focus includes project coordination of major fast-paced National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) projects with extensive public involvement programs. She also specializes in preparation and review of various forms and documentation for NEPA and natural, cultural, and socio-economic resources; coordination of instruction efforts; and preparation and compilation of administrative records for litigation.

Roadway Design Advisors
Philip Cremin
Philip Cremin is currently Assistant Chief Civil Engineer at the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. He has over 30 years of experience in civil engineering design at the Port Authority. He has held his current position for the past seven years, overseeing approximately forty staff members. Cremin has worked on the Goethals Bridge and Bayonne Bridge replacement programs and is currently overseeing the civil design for the LaGuardia Redevelopment Program and the Newark Liberty International Airport Terminal A Program. He was on the Port Authority committee responsible for the development of sustainable design guidelines for infrastructure-type projects. In addition, he directs the agency’s pavement management program.

Structural Design Advisors
Jamey Barbas
Jamey Barbas is a design manager for major design build and public-private partnership projects for Hardesty & Hanover. Her 28 years of experience in bridge design, construction and inspection have a special emphasis on complex and long-span suspension bridges. She has worked on many award-winning alternative delivery projects, including acting as the bridge design manager for the major bridges across Autoroute 30 in Montreal, one of the largest public-private partnership bridges in North America.

George Christian
George Christian is currently a transportation quality control engineer with AECOM. He is a structural technical advisor on bridge projects and for design build proposal development, which includes developing design concepts for complex bridges. Before joining AECOM, he had over 38 years of engineering management experience in varied bridge planning, design, construction and evaluation activities in the New York State DOT Office of Structures.

Angus Low
Angus Low is a consultant with Arup with over 30 years of experience with long-span bridges over shipping channels, in a variety of roles as designer, checker, assessor, tender assessor or technical advisor. His extensive experience covers many countries and includes many design build and alternative delivery bridge projects, such as the Hangzhou Bay Bridge in China and the Second Severn Crossing in England and Wales.

Ken Wheeler
Ken Wheeler is a transportation industry director with AECOM with over 35 years of experience in bridge engineering, particularly for major bridge projects. His experience includes particular emphasis on design build projects and encompasses concrete and composite steel cable-stayed, pre-stressed concrete box girder, composite steel box girder and composite steel truss bridges.

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Transportation Nation

Key Politicians Throw Support Behind Cuomo's Tappan Zee Bridge Plan

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Tappan Zee Bridge (photo by Joseph A. via Flickr)


The county executives of Westchester, Rockland, and Putnam counties are finally giving their official blessing to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's $5.2 billion plan for a new Tappan Zee Bridge -- now that he's agreed to form a task force to firm up future transit options.

The current bridge plan includes dedicated bus lanes, but no timetable for bus rapid transit on either side of the Hudson River crossing.

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino says that discussion is now back on the table. "Unless there was going to be some transit options," he said, "this bridge would just have the same old congestion and pollution and problems that the current one does. It would just look shinier."

Astorino has been pushing for a 12-mile BRT corridor. He said that he, Rockland County executive Scott Vanderhoef, and Putnam County executive MaryEllen Odell have been in talks with the governor for a month.

The transit task force will make recommendations within a year.

The county executives sit on a council that must unanimously approve the Tappan Zee Bridge plan to make it eligible for federal funding. That vote had been delayed, but now it is expected to move ahead quickly.

Governor Cuomo has spent the summer lining up local support for the bridge. On Thursday, he sent out a delighted email trumpeting the executives' support.

"Building a new, better bridge to replace the Tappan Zee and ending the dysfunction that has delayed this project for over ten years has been a top priority since I took office,” he said. “County Executives Robert Astorino, Scott Vanderhoef and MaryEllen Odell have consistently supported our efforts to replace the Tappan Zee and I am pleased that they are pledging to vote for our plan to build a safer, transit-ready bridge that will reduce congestion, provide a dedicated bus lane, and create tens of thousands of jobs. We will continue to work with local leaders and stakeholders as we move forward with one of the biggest and most critical infrastructure projects in New York.”

Thursday's announcement also won support from another corner: advocacy group the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, which has long been pushing for mass transit options for the new bridge. The group's executive director, Veronica Vanterpool, said in an email that "this bridge project is taking a turn for the better." She added: "A firm commitment from Governor Cuomo’s office for dedicated bus lanes on the span from day one is a real victory that will improve commutes for bus riders and drivers from the day the bridge opens. But, without additional measures for bus rapid transit in the future, the bus lanes themselves will do little to address the mobility needs of the I-287 corridor. This initial investment shows that the governor’s office has moved beyond the rhetoric of “transit-readiness” to a concrete transit provision."

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Transportation Nation

Cuomo: Toll "Too High" on Estimates for New Tappan Zee Bridge

Friday, August 10, 2012

File photo of Governor Cuomo at the Tappan Zee Bridge on November 15, 2010 (photo by Richard Yeh/WNYC)

Although senior staffers to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo have been out in force defending the proposed toll hike on the new Tappan Zee Bridge, the governor is now calling the $14 toll "too high."

It's a new chapter in a series of events that started last Thursday evening, when Larry Schwartz, the secretary to the governor, formally revealed at a community meeting that tolls on the new bridge would almost triple when it opens to traffic in 2017.

The current Tappan Zee Bridge, which connects Rockland and Westchester Counties across the Hudson River, is considered to have outlived its useful life. New York State has been working on plans to replace it for almost a decade, and Governor Cuomo has made jump-starting construction one of his priorities.

Although Cuomo had been saying that tolls on the Tappan Zee would go up when the new bridge opens to traffic in 2017, the number -- which one Albany talk show host referred to as "jaw dropping" in an interview with the governor on Friday --  caught many people off guard, and  the backlash was immediate.

But today the governor struck a different tone in a letter to the New York State Thruway Authority, the agency in charge of the bridge. It was the first time Cuomo backed away from the $14 number.

"I believe the projected 2017 toll schedule based on the Federal Highway Administration’s estimate of up to $5.2 billion for the new bridge is too high," wrote Cuomo. "Over the next five years, we must find alternatives, revenue generators and cost reductions that reduce the potential toll increases." It was not immediately clear what a non-toll revenue generator would be.

To lower future tolls, the NY state is banking on lowering the projected construction costs below the federal estimate of $5.2 billion. Another option would be applying for additional grants to the state from the U.S. Department of Transportation. A spokesperson for the governor's office said that three construction bids are currently under review and that the cost will be the last piece of information to be parsed.

While it will take some time to hash out exactly how much toll revenue is required to build the new Tappan Zee, Cuomo's letter had one immediate effect: the supervisor of one Westchester town cancelled a planned meeting to protest the toll hike. "In light of the Governor’s responsiveness to the concerns of residents who object to the toll hike -- there is no need to have the meeting on August 15th," reads a notice on the Greenburgh web site.

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Transportation Nation

Tappan Zee Tolls: The Backlash to the Backlash

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Tappan Zee Bridge (photo by waywuwei via flickr)

Following last week’s news that tolls on the new Tappan Zee Bridge could nearly triple by the time it opens in five years, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office has mounted a PR campaign trumpeting support for the $5 billion project.

The governor's team has been sending out near-daily emails listing numerous backers of a new bridge--including an endorsement from former New York Governor George Pataki, who had defeated Andrew Cuomo's father, Mario, in 1994. Notably absent from the list of supporters: Rockland County executive Scott Vanderhoef and Westchester County executive Rob Astorino, two elected officials who have yet to sign off on the project in order for it to receive federal funding.

The Cuomo plan would set the new bridge's cash toll at $14, a hefty jump from the current $5 charge. The governor says the increase is needed to pay for the $5.2 billion span, whose "basic source of financing will be the tolls."

Administration officials point out that at the new toll would bring the TZB in line with other Hudson River crossings, like the George Washington Bridge, due to rise to $14 in 2014, and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which costs $13.

The projected toll was laid bare at a community meeting in Ramapo last Thursday -- and Larry Schwartz, secretary to the governor, was careful to back into it.

Schwartz began by repeating the governor's assertion that a comprehensive bus rapid transit system would double the cost of the new bridge. "A full build-out of bus rapid transit on the bridge is $10 billion [leading to] a $28 toll in 2017," said Schwartz. He tried to use that number to make $14 look like a bargain.

It didn't work: the collective chagrin was immediate.

Media outlets ran headlines the next day using words like "tripling," and "steep." Opinion columns fumed that "the logic must be that if commuters already are soaked, they won't notice another wave of cold water." One local official said the toll hike would make the Tappan Zee a "bridge for only the rich" and announced plans for a town meeting on the topic. And Hudson Valley advocates who have been hoping -- so far in vain -- for a robust mass transit system said area commuters "could have few options in the face of higher tolls."

That same day, Cuomo's office sent out a statement implying that the $14 toll was a no-brainer. "On the cost the choice is clear," said Cuomo. "A new better bridge will require about the same tolls as just fixing the old bridge and about half the toll of a new bridge plus a new bus system."

But still: $14 tolls?

"I guess I was pleasantly surprised that the tolls weren't going to be higher," said Bob Yaro, president of the Regional Plan Association.

Yaro said that even if the current bridge was not replaced, tolls would go up because the cost of maintaining the 50-year old structure is skyrocketing. "People are not happy that they have to pay increased tolls but this strikes me as a reasonable amount," he said.

The RPA has long advocated for better bus service across the Tappan Zee Bridge. But Yaro says the corridor doesn't need a 30-mile bus rapid transit system, at least right now, because the I-287 corridor has seen a significant drop in traffic over the past ten years. "It is a place where we don't have growing traffic congestion," he said.

Instead, Yaro recommended easing bus traffic across the bridge on either side, and creating a better connection to the Tarrytown Metro-North station. Caveat: building a ramp from the bridge to the station, as some have proposed, would cost too much. "But we've gotten assurances from the governor's office that they'll will work with us and other advocates to look at options to make those connections work, both in the immediate future and as the new bridge comes on line," Yaro said.

David King, an assistant professor of urban planning at Columbia University's graduate school of architecture, was similarly sanguine about a future with $14 tolls  -- even in the face of few mass transit options. "I think if the tolls are $14, that will substantially cut down traffic -- so it doesn’t matter that there's not going to be a dedicated transit lane [on either side of the bridge]," he said. Then he slammed the project's price tag. "We should be outraged just because it’s costing so much, whether it has transit or not."

Meanwhile, as this story was being written, yet another email came in from the Governor's office. “The elected officials of the Hudson Valley know best what their region needs, and on behalf of their constituents, they are calling for a new bridge to replace the obsolete Tappan Zee,” Cuomo said.

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Transportation Nation

NY State Releases Final Report on Environmental Impact of New Tappan Zee Bridge

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Tappan Zee Bridge (photo by waywuwei via flickr)

New York has just released the final environmental impact statement for its new Tappan Zee Bridge.

The state says over the last six months, it has received over 3,000 public comments about the project, and the EIS document groups them into four categories:  concern about construction impacts (noise/dust/air quality/traffic),the design aesthetics of the new bridge, the construction impact upon the Hudson River environment, and transit capability of the new bridge.

Here are some ways the state says it will deal with the concerns:

  • Construction noise and air quality will be monitored 24/7, and the results will be publicly available online
  • A  "Blue Ribbon Selection Committee" will participate in the design selection -- meaning some members of the public will have input into what the new bridge will look like
  • Dredging will be limited, the discharge of sediment into the river will be minimized, and the state will use "bubble curtains and other technologies to minimize acoustic effects of piles driving on the fish."
  • The bridge will be designed "so that it could accommodate transit in the future."

The report does not include a widely touted plan to turn the old bridge into a greenway. The State Thruway Authority says it will demolish the existing structure.

More later. In the meantime, you can read both the summary and the entire report here. And please comment below to let us know what you think of the report.

 

 

 

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Transportation Nation

Westchester: You're Throwing Us a Three-Mile Transit Bone on the Tappan Zee Bridge; Give Us Nine More, Please

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tappan Zee Bridge (photo by waywuwei via flickr)

If local New York politicians are working through the five stages of grief over the lack of a comprehensive mass transit system for the new Tappan Zee Bridge, they might be moving closer to acceptance.

On Tuesday's Brian Lehrer Show, Westchester County executive Rob Astorino -- who has criticized Governor Andrew Cuomo's plans for Tappan Zee Bridge in the past -- today sounded a conciliatory note.

"We're basically all on the same page," said Astorino.

His remarks come after Rockland County executive Scott Vanderhoef told TN last week that he had dropped his insistence that a full bus rapid transit system be built now.

Vanderhoef said today on the Brian Lehrer Show he understood the financial realities.  "I agree with the governor's comment: ultimately, this is being paid for by our residents in some form or fashion. It's just you can't think only short term... it has to be long term."

Brian also asked if the old bridge would be retained as a bike/pedestrian bridge. "No," said Vanderhoef bluntly. "You'd have to pour an awful lot of money into that existing bridge."

Listen to the entire 16-minute interview below.

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Transportation Nation

NY Gov Cuomo: We're Paying for the New Tappan Zee With Tolls -- And Mass Transit Would Increase Them Even More

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (right), announcing an updated '511NY' system. (photo by governorandrewcuomo via flickr)

At a press conference today announcing the state's revamped 511 travel information system, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo reiterated his position that putting transit over the Tappan Zee Bridge could double construction costs -- which would then be passed on to toll payers.

"Money matters," he said. "If you asked toll payers do they wanted to pay double the toll, my guess is the answer would be no.  If you asked the taxpayers do they want to pay $10 billion, the answer would be no."

But mass transit advocates dispute the state's cost estimates of adding bus rapid transit (BRT) to the new bridge.

Veronica Vanterpool, executive director of Tri-State Transportation Campaign, said New York had never accurately analyzed the cost of a simple BRT system and was relying instead on old projections for a much more elaborate project.  “If the state's BRT cost analysis only considered installing bus rapid transit in the context of a massive I-287 overhaul, it made a mistake," said Vanterpool in an email. "You don’t need to dig a tunnel to paint a bus lane."

Westchester County executive Rob Astorino echoed that thought Tuesday. In an appearance on the radio show "Live From the State Capitol," he said: "If the average mile is considered to be about $166 million, according to the state, that is about ten times more than the average bus rapid transit mile in the nation."

But Cuomo said during his press conference that his problem was not with the idea of transit, but with the reality of paying for it.

"In theory is a mass transit system across the state a great idea? Of course, of course," he said. "You're not going to get anyone -- certainly the people around this table -- to say anything but they support a robust mass transit system all across the state. The question then becomes the reality of the situation, and the cost of the situation. And to put in a bus system now, for Rockland County and Westchester would roughly double the cost, from five billion to ten billion. And that is a significant increase, and one that I believe is not advisable at this time."

Cuomo said the financing plan for the bridge had yet to be finalized, but one thing was certain: "The basic source of financing will be the tolls," he said. "So the bulk of the financing will come from the tolls. And that's why whatever the cost of the bridge is, whatever you add on is going to be financed by the tolls. And it's very simple at one point. We make it complicated. You can build whatever you want. You then have to pay for what you build."

When pressed about tolls, he said "we'll have it broken down to what the toll will go to for various options, and then the people will decide."

The governor has long said mass transit on the bridge would lead to toll hikes -- and that if the counties want it, they can pay for it. Earlier this year the governor's press office sent out an email saying "the Counties have no plans in place to construct these 64 miles of mass transit. The entire bridge is only three miles and will support mass transit, if and when the Counties build it."

In a phone interview with TN Tuesday, Rockland County executive Scott Vanderhoef called that type of thinking "cynical" and said a BRT system would serve more people than just Rockland and Westchester. "I don't buy that argument. It's a thruway system, a federally-funded, state-funded thruway system. And ultimately you're talking about multiple jurisdictions that it would have to serve...so it's a regionally important area."

"But," he said, "I'm also not insisting that [BRT] be built now." What he wants "is to move people across this bridge, a new bridge, in any way that you can...to keep them out of cars." Vanderhoef said he was encouraged by the state's recent announcement that it would create rush-hour bus lanes on the new bridge.

Vanderhoef and Astorino -- along with Putnam County executive MaryEllen Odell -- have asked the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council to defer voting on the Tappan Zee Bridge until they get more information about the project. "No one disagrees that the bridge needs to be replaced," Vanderhoef told TN. "The question is: what are you buying?" He said the final environmental impact statement, which will be released later this summer, would address those issues.

A NYMTC vote on the project -- which is necessary in order to secure federal funding -- could take place in September.

You can listen to Governor Cuomo's remarks below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Transportation Nation

Key Vote on the Tappan Zee Bridge Delayed

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Tappan Zee Bridge (photo by waywuwei via flickr)


The New York Metropolitan Transportation Council (NYMTC) has postponed a meeting about the status of the Tappan Zee Bridge. But New York State officials are saying it won't slow down the state's ambitious timeline to replace the span.

NYMTC is a regional planning body made up of government officials from New York City, Long Island and the lower Hudson Valley. The group had scheduled a vote next week about whether to move the bridge replacement into its short-term transportation plan.  According to a NYMTC spokesperson, the vote is "part of the federally-required process that will enable the project to move forward to receive a record of decision."

Meaning: if NYMTC doesn't unanimously back the Tappan Zee replacement, the federal government won't okay it -- or designate any funding for the $5 billion project.

But an NYMTC email states the scheduled July 10th meeting won't happen--at the request of the County Executives of Rockland, Putnam, and Westchester Counties. The council said the executives wanted more time "to review the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Tappan Zee Hudson River Crossing Project."

Officials say the FEIS could be released by the end of July.

Rockland executive Scott Vanderhoef and Westchester executive Rob Astorino have been vocal proponents of putting mass transit over the Tappan Zee Bridge. In an email, Astorino said the decision to postpone the vote was common sense.

"Why would we have a vote before seeing what’s in it?" he said. "Getting as much information up front will pay big dividends in terms of building a bridge that’s affordable and meets the present and future needs of Westchester, the region, our state and our nation.”

MaryEllen Odell, the Putnam County executive, called the decision to postpone the vote until the FEIS was released "good government." "You can't make a decision on a project until you've seen everything that you can possibly see," she said, adding that she wasn't looking for anything in specific -- nor did she have any serious concerns about replacing the bridge. "It's not really making any more of a statement other than 'we want to see the final document'...it's really important that this project happen. But what's more important is that it happen the right way. This is really just about making sure that whatever we're signing our names on to, where we're spending taxpayer money, is a project that works fiscally (and) is environmentally responsible and sensitive to our area."

New York State Thruway executive Thomas Madison put a positive face on the deferred vote. "The New York Metropolitan Transportation Council’s decision to wait for a full review of the Final Environmental Impact Statement [FEIS] before voting on the new Tappan Zee Bridge will give us time to make sure community stakeholders are fully informed and will in no way delay the project," he said in a statement.

But the FEIS won't be light reading. (You can see a photo of the draft EIS here.) There are some 3,000 comments from members of the public, and the county executives will likely have questions about financing -- and tolls.

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Transportation Nation

Financial Plan for Tappan Zee Bridge Probably Won't Come Until August

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Tappan Zee Bridge, which crosses the Hudson and connects Rockland and Westchester Counties (photo by Patsy Wooters via Flickr)

Thomas Madison, the head of the New York State Thruway Authority, knows the $5 billion-dollar question is how the state will pay for its planned replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge. But he's able to maintain a sense of humor about the uncertainty.

Speaking Thursday morning at a breakfast sponsored by the Citizens Budget Commission, Madison pointed to his presentation about the bridge and said: "I'm going to go through these slides fairly quickly, because I understand there's a lot of questions on how we're going to finance the project that I can't answer --  so I will hedge those after the presentation."

But he did impart some information about how the state will fund what is expected to be a $5 billion to $6 billion cost: "The principal way -- and the predominant way -- will be toll-backed Thruway bonds. There's been talk about pension funds, or some other private equity introduction into the process. Those discussions continue, but ultimately this will be a publicly funded project."

Madison said the "hard target" for a financial plan is August, when the federal government is expected to sign off on the project, but it could come sooner.

Other details:

  • While the state is "confident" it will get that loan, it's also exploring other federal grant possibilities
  • Any private money won't come in the form of a public/private partnership, because the state lacks that legislative authority.
  • There's "no intent" to raise tolls -- but it's the state's goal to be consistent with other area crossings. And "the bridge itself and the New York State Thruway system generally is the biggest bargain in terms of toll roads in the Northeast." (Currently, the undiscounted toll for crossing the Tappan Zee is $5; the cash toll for the George Washington Bridge is $12.)
  • This is a roads project, not a transit one. "The Thruway Authority does not own or operate or maintain any transit systems today and we're not in the transit business." The bridge will be built so as to "not preclude" a bus rapid transit or rail line in the future. But as it stands today, "we can't afford to incorporate a full transit system beyond the bridge itself."
  • The MTA is giving the state information about loading capacity to make sure that's included in the design of the new bridge.
  • But what will the new Tappan Zee look like? "We will know the design of the bridge when we receive the proposals from the four teams (currently bidding on the project); right now that is slated for the end of July."
  • Even though the bridge is being expanded significantly, "capacity will still be an issue... so we're going to incorporate some intelligent transportation systems to manage the traffic better."
  • No news on what might happen to the existing bridge when the new one is operational. Madison said the contract calls for its demolition (which will cost $150 million). And the state is exploring "repurposing it," the Coast Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers have some "serious reservations."

Meanwhile, preliminary work on the new bridge is in full swing on the Hudson. And Madison said starting Friday, "they're going to start driving these ten-foot-in-diameter, 180-foot-long piles down into the riverbed, and then they actually weld another 180-foot pipe on top of that, and continue driving it down."

This, he said, will give the companies bidding on the project information they need on the bedrock and substrate.

You can see Thomas Madison's presentation here.

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Transportation Nation

No Federal Loan for Tappan Zee Bridge -- At Least Right Now

Thursday, April 26, 2012

UPDATED WITH LETTER FROM FEDERAL GOVERNMENT New York State had been hoping that a third of the cost of the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement would be funded through a low-interest loan. But the federal government has taken a pass -- at least for this round.

State officials are maintaining that today's announcement is "very good news."  Speaking at an Albany press conference, director of operations Howard Glaser said the bridge would still be considered in later rounds of funding.

"They advised us the Tappan Zee bridge would be one of the six large scale projects that will be considered in the second round," Glaser said. But Glaser acknowledged financing couldn't come until after congress passes a surface transportation re authorization bill, which many experts predict won't happen until after the November elections.  And a letter supplied to Transportation Nation (at the end of the post) didn't mention a short list of six projects.

In February, the state sent the U.S. Department of Transportation a letter of interest, requesting a $2 billion TIFIA (for Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act) loan for the massive bridge construction project.

The state had said that the total cost of the project would be about $5.2 billion, although a budget hasn't been finalized.

The TIFIA website says that the agency received "26 Letters of Interest (LOIs) seeking more than $13 billion in credit assistance to finance approximately $36 billion in infrastructure investment across the country." It continues: "While limited TIFIA resources mean that not all of the LOIs can be selected, five projects are being invited to apply for credit assistance."

But state officials -- who have yet to release a financing plan for the project -- say the Tappan Zee bridge isn't out of it. "In this first round they only did $100 million total for the whole country," Glaser said. " Remember our application for the Tappan Zee alone is in excess of $2 billion.  So those large sclae  high profile projets will be a further round based  on federally available funding. They can't fund these large programs right now."

Glaser said the Tappan Zee bridge funding would have to wait until Congress reauthorizes the transportation bill.

TIFIA loans are used for large-scale infrastructure projects that cost $50 million or more. Loans can't exceed 33% of project costs.

The letter to the state from the federal government didn't make any mention of a short list of six projects. Here's the letter:

John M. Bryan
Chief Financial Officer & Treasurer
Interim Chief Information Officer

Thank you for submitting a Letter of Interest (LOI) in response to the FY 2012 TIFIA Notice of Funding Availability.  In response to the December 30, 2011 deadline, the Department received 26 LOIs seeking over $13 billion in credit assistance to finance an estimated $36 billion in infrastructure investment.  The requested level of TIFIA financing is more than 10 times the level than can be supported given current program resources.

Each LOI has been evaluated against the TIFIA statutory criteria, and the Tappan Zee Bridge project performed well in our review.  Unfortunately, the Department does not have sufficient budgetary resources to invite an application for your project at this time.  In light of those constraints, the Department prioritized projects that could be accommodated within resource levels and required financing in the nearest time frame.  However, if TIFIA budgetary resources are significantly increased as proposed in the President's Budget and the House and Senate reauthorization proposals, we will create an expedited review process for those funds.  We encourage you to continue the planning and financial work necessary to move your project if and when that review process takes place.  Please note that even with an augmented program, the level of TIFIA credit assistance may still be constrained, which could impact the amount available for the Tappan Zee Bridge project.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Duane

Duane Callender
Director
TIFIA Credit Program  (HITJ)
US Department of Transportation

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Transportation Nation

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

Monday, April 02, 2012

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.

 

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Transportation Nation

From the NYS Archives: 1955 Promotional Film of Tappan Zee Bridge

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The new Tappan Zee Bridge is moving forward -- both in the Hudson River and on the internet.

This week workers began driving the first of 28 piles that will hold river platforms in place. And New York State also unveiled its new project website (the older version can still be found here.)

The videos section of the site has a promotional film made by the New York State Thruway Authority to commemorate the 1955 opening of the bridge. It has everything you could hope for in a 50's-era film: the authoritative-yet-soothing male narrator, cheery background music, an American flag waving on the bridge's foundation. There are also some fascinating facts about the construction process, including a component list of what went into making the bridge ("it has over 27 acres of pavement" -- not to mention 74,000 tons of steel). Also of note:  the caissons were constructed in a dry basin ten miles away -- and then the basin was flooded so the structures could be towed into the Hudson.

One other thing: the bridge cost $60 million to build. The new bridge is slated to cost almost a hundred times that.

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