The recently approved design and construction plan to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge calls for construction to begin early in 2013.
A consortium called Tappan Zee Constructors submitted the winning proposal which represents “the largest transportation project to date in the U.S. and one of the largest construction project in New York State history,” according to New York State Thruway Authority Board Chairman Howard P. Milstein. (See our previous coverage.)
The consortium includes Fluor Enterprises Inc., American Bridge Company, Granite Construction Northeast Inc., and Traylor Bros. Inc. Their plan calls for the new bridge to accommodate all transit modes including bus rapid transit, light rail or commuter rail– a key feature urged by the Westchester League of Conservation Voters and other environmental groups in order to reduce carbon emissions from automobiles.
A 28-member Mass Transit Task Force set up in December 2012 has already met to start identifying mass transit solutions for the bridge and Cross-Westchester Expressway (I-287) . While the new plan meets federal environmental impact standards, there are still a lot of questions about the projects impact on the Hudson River.
According to the Governor’s office, the new bridge will provide:
- Eight traffic lanes plus emergency lanes and extra-wide shoulders
- A new toll plaza with at least three highway speed E-ZPass lanes (The current toll plaza includes only two 35mph lanes, as well as 5mph E-ZPass lanes)
- A dedicated bicycle and pedestrian path on the northern span
- Safe, scenic overlooks, with anti-climb fencing and security cameras to be monitored 24 hours a day
- Strength and capacity provisions to accommodate various mass transit modes
The approved proposal submitted with the lowest bid of $3.14 billion, requires less dredging than the other proposals, would involve less noise from pile driving, and would take the shortest time– 5 years and 2.5 months– to completion, notes Marsha Gordon, President/CEO of the Business Council of Westchester, who is a member of the mass transit task force. She also says that the replacement bridge” will be built to be mass transit-ready for future inclusion of rail service.”
But many mass transit issues are still being debated. Members of the mass transit task force plan to meet once a month to try to come up with a mass transit solution. Their report to Governor Andrew Cuomo is due in December 2013.
Photos: New York State Thruway Authority
Joyce H. Newman is an Emmy Award-winning environmental journalist, educator, and gardener. She holds a Certificate in Horticulture from The New York Botanical Garden, and is a tour guide there.