TARRYTOWN, N.Y. – President Barack Obama has approved Gov. Andrew Cuomo's request for an expedited approval process for the Tappan Zee Bridge, the governor's office announced Tuesday.
"I want to thank President Obama, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, and the U.S. Department of Transportation, including the Federal Highway Administration, for selecting the Tappan Zee Bridge project and recognizing that moving forward with the project is key to New York's economic future," Cuomo said. "This is a shot in the arm for the project and a major step forward to restoring this key piece of our infrastructure and putting tens of thousands of New Yorkers back to work."
Cuomo requested expedited federal approval of the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project as part of a federal competition to create jobs and restore infrastructure.
The expedited process includes a review of the Environmental Impact Statement and permit processing. Cuomo's office said that if the expedited process is approved, the project could get underway as early as next year.
“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.”
The Tappan Zee Bridge opened in 1955 to connect Westchester County with Rockland County. Today about 135,000 vehicles cross the bridge each day. The governor's office noted that the bridge has shown “significant” deterioration over the last twenty years and is vulnerable to severe storms, earthquakes and ship collisions.
Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino said in a statement that he has “long stressed the importance of the bridge to the entire northeast region.” Astorino toured the bridge in July and asked Cuomo to make it a top priority.
“If the bridge were to close for any reason, the economic consequences would be catastrophic,” he said. “It’s time for the planners and engineers to put down their pencils and move into the construction phase.”
President Barack Obama is expected to announce that the bridge is one of 14 projects that will get expedited approval, CBS reported Tuesday.