TARRYTOWN, N.Y. – Westchester residents turned out in force Thursday night to comment on the proposed Tappan Zee Bridge project, citing a number of concerns with construction plans and the approval process while praising the fact that a new bridge was in the works.
“More construction happening with construction sites around the south end of Tarrytown is cutting us off from the village completely,” Tori Weisel said. Weisel is president of the Irvington Neighborhood Preservation Association. “It's also creating a complete boondoggle of traffic going into Tarrytown and into Irvington, and we're hoping people will look at that.”
The hearing brought several hundred people to the Westchester Marriott in Tarrytown as state officials outlined proposed plans for a new bridge. Elected officials, local residents and area organizations spoke during the meeting on the draft environmental impact statement for the bridge. This was the second of two meetings held on the draft statement.
Plans for the new bridge include twin spans that would sit about 300 feet north of the existing bridge. In Westchester, a small portion of the Quay Condominium would be taken. A construction staging site would be set up where the current bridge maintenance building and New York State Police barracks are located. The site would also include a platform built onto the Hudson River.
Engineer Nathaniel Parish told state officials that the draft statement doesn't adequately consider the impacts of the new bridge on the Quay Condominiums. Parish spoke on behalf of the condominiums, which sit north of the bridge.
“The proposal requires the acquisition of a small slice of the Quay for an easement because the bridge comes that close to the condo complex,” he said. “As a result, there are all kinds of impacts—both permanent impacts and construction impacts.”
Parish said property values in the complex have already diminished as a result of the proposal. Parish and Weisel also cited a number of concerns, including noise, air quality, increased traffic and problems with pest control.
“We lived through the construction of the Route 9 bridge over 297, and we were cut off from the village entirely,” Weisel said. “We couldn't make left turns. If the construction vehicles are turning in and out of there, we're going to be cut off again and it's also going to be a dangerous situation.”
Area politicians discussed the lack of a mass-transit option on the proposed bridge.
“The opportunity is not likely to come again, if at all,” Tarrytown Mayor Drew Fixell said while advocating for a mass-transit system to be included the day the bridge opens.
County Executive Rob Astorino said some sort of transit option is needed if officials don't want the bridge to be stuck in the 1950s. Astorino also asked the state to give indications of how much tolls will rise with the new bridge.
Fixell and others also questioned the speedy comment process, noting that the 40-day period to review the draft statement was “unacceptably short” and that the draft statement neglected to mention important things such as financial options to build the bridge.
Construction and business officials praised the new bridge and urged the state to complete it as fast as possible, citing safety concerns and the need for construction jobs.
“New Yorkers need two things right now: jobs and a new bridge,” Ross Pepe said. Pepe is president of the Construction Industry Council of Westchester. “The decision is easy. Move forward and regain our glory as a national powerhouse of construction, innovation and world-class transportation, or forever regret we didn’t take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner called for officials to consider turning the existing bridge into a greenway park similar to the Walkway Over the Hudson. He also asked that the state create a local advisory committee to address concerns of residents who live directly near the bridge.