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Tappan Zee Bridge Replacement Picked for Federal Fast Track

Cuomo: Construction could begin as soon as next year.

President Barack Obama has announced that the replacement for the Tappan Zee Bridge has been selected as one of 14 projects that will get a fast track review at the federal level.

Obama launched a competition for states to submit their high priority, job-creating projects in order to win expedited federal approvals, and New York submitted the Tappan Zee project. With an expedited federal review of the Environmental Impact Statement and the processing of permits, the Tappan Zee project could begin as early as next year, potentially creating more jobs than any other infrastructure project in the country, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“The Tappan Zee Bridge is a vital part of our state and region’s infrastructure,” Cuomo said. “The Tappan Zee Bridge project improves a key component of our state and nation’s infrastructure, and at the same time puts tens of thousands of New Yorkers back to work.”

In a press release reacting to the news, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-Harrison), said, “I am pleased the Tappan Zee Bridge is one of 14 high-priority projects that will benefit from expedited permitting and environmental review, which will help to begin construction of a new bridge soon.  Reconstruction of the Tappan Zee—which is critical for commuters and travelers—will accelerate local job creation while maintaining and improving a critical link in our region’s transportation network."

 The project, including necessary changes to the New York State Thruway in Westchester and Rockland counties, is expected to cost more than $16 billion.

“I urge the federal government to expedite approval for this important project which will create tens of thousands of jobs,” said state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. “Major investments in infrastructure are exactly what New York needs to jump-start our economy and restore safety to heavily traveled bridges and other arteries. I commend Governor Cuomo and Senator Fuschillo, the Chairman of the Senate's Transportation Committee, for their leadership on this critical project.”

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said that with support from the federal government, New York will be able to begin work on the Tappan Zee Bridge, ensuring this critical part of the Northeast’s infrastructure remains safe and reliable.

“Investments of this size have the potential to transform the region’s economy, create jobs, and renew confidence in our state’s economic revitalization,” Silver said. “Governor Cuomo has shown true leadership in rebuilding New York’s economy and I look forward to continuing to work together on critical infrastructure projects and creating jobs in our state.”

About 135,000 vehicles cross the bridge daily with upwards of 160,000 vehicles on some weekends, with a total of approximately 45 million vehicles in 2010.

Over the last 20 years, the Tappan Zee has shown significant deterioration, according to state officials, who note that with seven narrow lanes and no safety shoulders, the Tappan Zee has an accident rate double the rest of the New York Thruway system. The bridge is also vulnerable to severe storms, ship collisions and earthquakes.

A final design for the bridge and its connections has not yet been selected, with the scope of the project varying depending on whether a rail transportation component is included.

Francis T McVetty October 17, 2011 at 02:13 PM
Greg, again, we are NOT living in Europe where bicycling is a way of life. Can you envision people commuting to work by bicycle? What distances would you think they would travel, 20- 30 miles? How many of these people do you think there are? We have had enough people commit suicide from the present bridge and it doesn't allow pedestrian or bicycle traffic now. A train track YES, pedestrians and bicycles, NO.
jo October 17, 2011 at 02:24 PM
787 billion taken from us.. and the bridge was not talked about.. oh brother.. get the money and keep the gov out of it..all of it.... makes my blood boil.. the bridge is gonna come down.. stay off of it...
Scott Walters October 17, 2011 at 02:28 PM
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel in VA is a perfect example of the private sector doing a great thing with infrastructure. Perhaps we need that model for more of our roads.
Hans Morefield October 17, 2011 at 06:00 PM
I'm an avid bicyclist, but I agree that a bike path over the TappanZee might not be that worthwhile for a number of reasons: (1) it's a long ride across; (2) it will have a big hill to climb; and (3) it doesn't connect two busy areas. The GW bridge works because it is shorter and because you're linking two more densely-populated areas: Manhattan/Upper Manhattan and Fort Lee. There are bikers and walkers that commute via the GW Bridge. There will be very, very few for the TZ. Personally, I would love to be able to bike across and would do it if I could, but I can't justify the expense. Room for a train is a MUST, MUST, MUST. What a waste it would be to not support mass-transit. I don't buy the suicide issue... that's true for all bridges whether you can walk or bike or not.
Hans Morefield October 17, 2011 at 06:06 PM
I think the $787 refers to the TARP program. Not sure what TARP has to do with a bridge, but most of the TARP money was paid back (all the money paid to the banks has been paid back and the Govt even made money on those "investments"; not the money to AIG) and I think most economists, etc. view TARP as a success. Averted a financial meltdown. Also, TARP wasn't partisan. It was proposed by the Bush administration, supported by both parties (probably more Democrats) to pass Congress, and largely administered by the current administration.

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