TARRYTOWN, N.Y. – Residents and elected officials praised plans to build a new Tappan Zee Bridge on Tuesday night, but quickly expressed their outrage that proposed options do not specifically include a mass transit system.
“I think it's a total abomination that all [mass] transit has been eliminated from this bridge,” said Gary Prophet, vice president of the Empire State Passengers Association.
Transportation officials discussed the proposed plans for a new Tappan Zee Bridge as part of an Environmental Impact Study at the DoubleTree Hotel in Tarrytown during the first of two public scoping briefings.
The next briefing will take place at the Palisades Center Adler Room in West Nyack on Thursday from 4 to 9 p.m. The Palisades Center is located at 1000 Palisades Center Drive in West Nyack.
Proposed plans for the bridge call for two separate spans, one for eastbound traffic and one for westbound traffic. The north span of the new bridge would include a pedestrian walkway.
The new bridge would be built just north of the current Tappan Zee Bridge. Previous plans for the bridge included the I-87/287 corridor, but now transportation officials are only considering the four-mile bridge span across the Hudson River from Nyack to Tarrytown.
Proposed plans do not preclude a future mass-transit system, Michael Anderson said. Anderson is the project director and works at the New York State Department of Transportation.
Future mass transit could be added to the infrastructure in three ways, Anderson said: on the bridges themselves without reducing the number of traffic lanes, on a third parallel bridge or spanning the two bridge structures.
Prophet lives in Ossining. He drove to the scoping briefing and said it took him 38 minutes. He questioned officials on what would happen when the lanes are widened to allow more traffic across the bridge, saying it would contribute more congestion to the area roadways.
Nyack Mayor Richard Kavesh pointed out that the whole reason behind the original I-87/287 corridor project was to “get people out of their cars and into mass transit to reduce congestion and reduce pollution.
“That is decidedly lacking in this Hudson River Crossing Project,” Kavesh said, later adding, “To say that you propose something that does not preclude mass transit is a lot different than proposing something that includes mass transit from the very beginning.”
Tarrytown resident Joyce Lannert was also concerned by the lack of a bus transit system. She was pleased that a rail line to the Metro North Railroad was not part of the plans.
“Frankly, I think the rail line was and still is a very poor idea to bring that down onto Metro North, and I'm glad that's gone,” she said.
Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino said he was troubled by the proposed design's lack of a mass transit component. He also advised officials not to be afraid of a public-private partnership to pay for the bridge.
Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner spoke against demolishing the old bridge, urging officials to look at whether it would be cheaper to keep the bridge and turn it into a pedestrian park like Poughkeepsie's Walkway Over the Hudson or the High Line in New York City.
Prophet debated whether Feiner's proposed park would be beneficial to the surrounding communities, pointing out that the parking that would be needed would create its own congestion.
Yonkers City Council President Chuck Lesnick said any proposed bridge that does not include mass transit is “a missed opportunity.” Lesnick noted that the George Washington Bridge in New York City was also supposed to have a mass transit option built later. That bridge turned 80 on Monday.
“We're still waiting for the train to come on that bridge,” Lesnick said.