TARRYTOWN, N.Y. – A new Tappan Zee Bridge may be built sooner than previously planned, thanks to the project being put on the fast track by federal officials, but the new bridge may also be less ambitious than earlier proposals, with no mass transit included.
Transportation officials outlined the proposed options for a new bridge at the first of two public scoping briefings on Tuesday. They also addressed what had been eliminated from a previous proposal, known as the I-87/287 Corridor Plan.
Michael Anderson, project director at the New York State Department of Transportation, said the new Tappan Zee Bridge project would only include the bridge and less than one mile of roadway in Rockland County and Westchester County for a 4-mile span in total. The project will stretch from the South Broadway Bridge in Nyack to the South Broadway/Route 9 Bridge in Tarrytown.
Previous studies from the I-87/287 plan had considered improving 30 additional miles of highway. Anderson said officials will be drawing information from the studies done during the old I-87 project, noting “much of it remains valid.”
“Essentially the timeline was outdated for that project,” Anderson said. “The process for that project was complex and frankly unworkable. The economic and fiscal realities prevented financing of that corridor project.”
The proposed Tappan Zee Bridge replacement will feature two distinct spans across the Hudson River about 300 feet north of the current bridge. The north span of the new bridge would house westbound traffic. Eastbound traffic would use the south span of the bridge. The twin spans would “ensure service redundancy,” Anderson said, because one span could be used to carry two-way traffic if necessary.
Each span would include four lanes of traffic and dedicated shoulders. The north span would include a walkway for pedestrians and bicyclists. Officials are also proposing additional 12-foot areas for emergency services.
Anderson also noted that the South Broadway Bridge in Nyack would need to be replaced. The Interchange 10 west of that bridge, along with the South Broadway/Route 9 Bridge in Tarrytown, will remain intact.
The proposed bridge does not include a mass-transit system, although it doesn't preclude future mass-transit systems. Anderson outlined three ways mass-transit could be added to the bridge in the future: within the twin spans, on a third parallel bridge or running in-between the twin spans. Commuter rail, light rail and bus transit could all be considered in the future.
The environmental impact study will also consider a no build/no action course. Anderson said this would be a projection of current conditions in terms of traffic, air quality and noise if nothing were to be done.
“The reason we do this is to establish a baseline condition to compare the alternatives,” he said.
Officials expect the draft environmental impact statement to be completed by January and a decision on the project by August.
Two previous options that had been considered in the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project, a rehabilitation of the bridge and bridge tunnels, are not being considered this time around. Those options were studied extensively, Anderson said, that officials came to the same conclusions.
Rehabilitation of the existing bridge would require extensive new construction, a new parallel bridge for westbound traffic and significant foundation work, Anderson said. He also noted rehabilitating the bridge would cost similarly to replacing the bridge altogether, yet there would still be “serious vulnerabilities.”
A tunnel would require at least four tubes and would need to stretch seven miles long, which would negatively impact the surrounding environment and neighborhoods, Anderson said. Additionally, Anderson explained that the costs would be significantly higher for constructing the tunnels and considering the higher security that would be needed.
For more information on the Tappan Zee Bridge project, visit our Tappan Zee Bridge topics page.
Plans for a new Tappan Zee Bridge are in the works after it was given expedited process approval, but first officials have to complete an Environmental Impact Study.