Tuesday, October 17, 2006

? What action steps should Greenburgh take re: TZ BRidge?

THE QUESTION OF THE DAY: WHAT ACTION STEPS SHOULD GREENBURGH TAKE REGARDING THE PROPOSED TZ BRIDGE?
New York State officials have been studying various options regarding the TZ Bridge. Among the options: replacing the TZ Bridge with another bridge. Establishing East-West rail service connections. Where will the local stations be located? How will this impact traffic/ development? The decision regarding the bridge will impact our community. What role should the town be playing during this review process? Should we hire a consultant...should we organize additional community meetings...what are your thoughts?

12 comments:

GoodGovtGuy said...

The proposals are unclear, hence it's unclear what impacts it's likely to have on Greenburgh. For example:
- Will they need to "take" non-thruway land (private homes, businesses) in order to build a rail line (for access ramps, parking areas, etc.)? Is our new Town Hall safe? What about the Police Station and Bailey School?
- Will their BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) alternative go along limited access lanes on Route 119? What impact might that have on existing 119 traffic?
- How many Westchester and Greenburgh residents are likely to use such mass transit alternatives (all surveys they have completed to date ask ONLY commuters coming from the OTHER SIDE of the Hudson!)?
- How many more cars are likely to be dumped onto local roads as a result of the increased capacity of a new bridge and what might that do to our local traffic conditions?

With the potential for such significant impact on our town, and with so many questions still unanswered, we need to immediately hire professional staff to delve into this further, come up with various scenarios, and make recommendations for the direction we'd like to see the project go in. If this doesn't happen soon, it may be too late for us to having any meaningful say in what happens. An ad hoc local committee of people with limited expertise in regional transportation and planning, that meets only once every month or two, will be of very limited, if any, help in guiding us in the right direction. This project is bigger than any other faced by this town in decades and needs full time attention.

Phillip Chonigman

Paul Feiner said...

Dear Phil: I intend to include in my 2007 budget a request for funding for a consultant who can help the town review the bridge options. We need to be proactive - not wait till it's too late.

Jon Orcutt said...

The transportation agencies working on the Tappan Zee corridor project anticipate spending $6 billion to $15 billion to replace the bridge and build new mass transit lines. With that big a budget, there should be significant funding included in the package to allow towns and villages in the corridor to develop master plans and local infrastructure improvements that not only allow them to take full advantage of new mass transit, with new transit-oriented development districts, but also for initiatives like traffic calming and enforcement of parking rules in neighborhoods near rail or bus stations.

- Jon Orcutt
Tri-State Transportation Campaign

Anonymous said...

LOOMING TZB PROBLEM
CONCERNED CITZENS OF WESTCHESTER


What we are trying to remedy:

(1) The air we breathe is toxic and threatens the health of everyone in the area. This is especially true for children under 7 years of age, adults over 70 and people who are already ill. We have been out-of-compliance with the Federal Clean Air Act for years.

We are in imminent danger of suffering notoriously high cancer, asthma and lung disease rates as are people living near the Cross Bronx Expressway. We insist that New York State government remedy this situation in the planning for a new Hudson River crossing.

At present, over 135,000 vehicles cross the TZB daily. By 2020, there will be an expected 20% to 30% increase in volume. A larger bridge will add substantially to the threat to our health.


(2) Apart from this real threat to our health, emergency repairs and traffic tie-ups on the Tappan Zee Bridge are growing more frequent. A major renovation seems increasingly more critical. We believe that the best TZB option is for renovation, not enlargment, which will cost us $14.5 billion dollars. Our plan is supported by the Riverkeeper organization which labeled the new and expanded bridge option “a boondoggle”.

A dedicated truck tunnel is far less expensive than a new bridge. It could also carry a mass-transit component. This would eliminate 8 million truck trips per year on the bridge, improve traffic flow and greatly reduce the fouling of the Hudson River. Diesel emissions are not only highly toxic to us, they also contaminate the river environment.


Submitted by:
Sherwood Chorost - Concerned Citizens for Responsible Development - Westchester Chapter, and
George Sherman - President, Concerned Citizens for Responsible Development
- Rockland Chapter

Marc Herman said...

Dear Paul,

IT'S TIME TO FIND A BETTER SOLUTION
FOR THE PROPOSED HUDSON RIVER CROSSING

If you saw a group of children playing near a fleet of idling
Diesel
trucks which were spewing toxic fumes you would probably anticipate the
serious health problem they faced and would move them to a safer
location.
This would be an intelligent and responsible action.

If you heard that the State was planning to significantly
increase
the already very high traffic flow in our neighborhood without due
consideration for the health and safety of the people in the community
it
would be similarly wise if you were active in pressing for a responsible

development plan. This is the situation we now face along the I-287
corridor. And the stakes are about to get much more serious.

Traffic flow over the Tappan Zee Bridge averages 132,000 vehicles

daily. About 22,000 trucks per day make up that total. Undeniably,
trucks
are an important factor in the vitality of our economy. But we must
take a
look at the environmental and health costs of unchecked traffic
expansion
and find a way to reduce the negative impacts it produces.

The New York State Thruway Authority and the NYS Department of
Transportation are now considering the building of a new and larger
bridge.
While there is broad agreement on the need for development of mass
transit
across the Hudson River, a tunnel option has been excluded from their
list
of alternatives.

What follows will highlight some of the major issues which need
to be
addressed. They are: (1) Financial cost, (2) Environmental
protection
(i.e., Hudson River and human health), (3) Traffic safety, (4) Impact
on
traffic flow on collateral roads, (5) Construction jobs, (6)
Minimization of land taking/ dislocation of homes and businesses, and
(7)
Timeliness with regard to the current deteriorating status of the TZB.

(1) COST - The latest official cost estimate for a new bridge and

associated systems is $14.5 billion (2003 dollars)! Ultimately, the
taxpayers and commuters will have to handle this staggering financial
burden. And this particular project is surpassed in priority by two
other
ultra-costly traffic construction plans - completion of the 2nd Avenue
Subway line and extension of the LIRR link to Grand Central Station.

The story we hear for elimination of a tunnel option along
I-287 is
that it would be more costly than a new bridge. By its estimated
completion
time in 2016 or beyond, estimated costs for that new bridge could swell
to
$20 billion or more. In contrast, authoritative reports from the tunnel

industry state that the most recently built European tunnels of
comparable
length and quality cost in the range of from $300 million to $750
million,
less than 1/ 10th of the projected new TZB cost.

Further, two other major Hudson River crossings have recently
received political support, i.e., a new passenger rail tunnel from New
Jersey to midtown NYC and the Cross Harbor Freight Tunnel which has been
on
the books since 1930.

( 2/ A) ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION / The Hudson River - A recent
meeting
about I-287 transportation options with the staff of the respected
environmental watchdog, Riverkeeper, found that they endorsed the
"Renovate-No Build" option for the crossing. Their report cited the need
to
maintain Hudson River quality where construction of a new and larger
bridge
would further damage the river environment. The estimated cost for
refurbishing the current TZB is $280 million for a new deck plus a great

deal more for structural repairs which could exceed $1 billion.

( 2/ B ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION / Air Quality & Effects on Health
There are hundreds of scientific studies citing the toxic
effects
and health risks from vehicular (especially truck) exhausts. As an
example,
a 2001 medical study during the 17-day Summer Olympics in Atlanta Ga.
conclusively demonstrated that lowering vehicular traffic in that area
led
to 28% lower lung disease-producing ozone rates. This study tracked air

quality levels before and during major roadway changes as well as after
a
return to the original highway design. Reduction of downtown traffic
resulted in 42% lower asthma and non-asthma acute distress rates of
medical
visits and hospitalizations during the study and a return to normally
higher
disease rates after traffic resumed.!

Copies of the Atlanta study noted above are available in the
Warner
Public Library. The Library will also have on fife a DVD copy of a talk
by
Dr. Klaus Jacob, a highly qualified scientist from the Columbia
University
Earth Laboratory, who participated in the building of the current TZB in

1955. In his 2003 talk before GUARD (i.e., Governments United in Action
for
Responsible Development) and local residents he presented his
professional
opinion on the relative merits of both a bridge and tunnel option. His
comparisons, were strongly in favor of building a tunnel

With steadily increasing traffic growth in our region we would
be
well advised to find ways to reduce dangerous vehicular exhausts. A
promising health alternative versus a wider and busier bridge would be
to
move the bulk of toxic truck exhausts underground. A dedicated
rail/truck
tunnel with freight and commuter rail capability would address critical
health issues. Underground, the volatile organic compounds (VOC's) and
associated toxic truck fumes could be filtered and treated before they
reach
human lungs. No one wants to risk a repetition here of the dire illness
rates along congested South Bronx roads. Any I-287 major construction
project which does not control such unwanted traffic effects fails tests
of
social justice and responsibility. Our current air quality rating is
poor. A
separate rail/truck tunnel along with the continued use of a refurbished
TZB
for cars, local trucks and buses should produce a significant reduction
in
area air pollution and protect the Hudson River.

A lowering of vehicular traffic from current rates can be
estimated.
Moving 22,000 trucks daily into a tunnel would reduce that flow to
about
110,000 cars a day, a 16% reduction in numbers. Further, estimating
that an
average truck takes up more than twice the volume of an average car,
removing that number of trucks would result in about a 1/ 3rd reduction
of
traffic volume leading to much less congestion as well as to much less
(perhaps 50% less) tonnage on the TZB compared to its current load.
This
change should go a long way to extending the active life of a
refurbished
bridge and to reducing ongoing maintenance costs.

Added cost reduction might occur for truck owners. With an option
for
freight rail, trucks (and their drivers) could be carried over the
distance
with their motors off, thus conserving fuel as well as providing an
added
improvement in air quality.

(3) TRAFFIC SAFETY - It seems reasonable to assume that
separating
truck and car traffic over a span of I-287 can only operate to reduce
the
frequency of car-truck accidents. Due to very unequal weight
comparisons,
such mishaps are usually quite serious for car drivers.

(4) TRAFFIC FLOW ON COLLATERAL ROADS - Expanding traffic flow and

extensive surface construction in the East-West corridor (I-287 and the
TZB)
will change the flow on collateral North-South roads, Route 9 in
particular.
A recent traffic study for Tarrytown showed that, already strained and
overloaded during peak periods, major intersections on Route 9 were
rated
"F", the poorest traffic flow grade. With a combined influx of more
traffic
from planned huge development at the former GM site in Sleepy Hollow, a
developing Tarrytown waterfront and a planned new and wider TZB, we
could be
faced with a vehicular load far too massive to be handled by our
existing
North-South roads. Without regional foresight and planning, major
travel
delays may become a regular occurrence for area drivers.

(5) CONSTRUCTION JOBS - An important factor in the selection of
a
Hudson River crossing is the effect on construction jobs. Bridge
laborers
would be assured of steady, continuing maintenance work for as long as a

Tappan Zee Bridge is in operation.

(6) LAND TAKING - This is an issue which significantly affected
residents of Tarrytown and the Nyacks in 1955 when the TZB was
originally
built. It is equally critical today with the threat of land being
seized
under Eminent Domain litigation. Advised by a consulting engineer to
the
Thruway Authority that a tunnel option was rejected, in part, because
(a)
much land would have to be taken for the building of turn-around roads
back
to Tarrytown and that (b) much of the land in question was inappropriate
due
to wetland conditions. With the retention of a refurbished TZB those
obstacles would be eliminated.

A strong statement several years ago by Andy Spano, Westchester
County Administrator, that he would not go along with any change "in the

footprint" of the bridge does not address tentative State plans for a
new
railroad station at the foot of a new Tappan Zee Bridge nor for a major
northerly turn along the Hudson River for an expanded bridge .

(7) TIMELINESS - The present TZB proposals envision a timeline

for approval and construction of a new bridge which would extend out for
at
least ten years. We are told that even if the new decking is started
promptly the current bridge does not have another ten years of service
under
present and increasing loading.

Major European tunnels are being completed at rates of 100 feet
per
day, or 350 days for the 35 thousand feet (nearly 7 miles) from West
Nyack
to Elmsford. Completing at least the truck bypass tunnel before
spending up
to $1 billion on bridge repairs can be done in the small window of time
available. Waiting will just lead to possible complete failure and,
certainly, interminable delays over many years if construction is done
piecemeal and in the midst of ongoing traffic.

Why does the NY Thruway Authority remain set on eliminating a
tunnel
option in light of the above? We have gone to Albany to meet with
administrative leaders at the Dept.of Transportation for answers.
Hopefully,
cost, environmental, engineering, protection of River Towns, traffic
flow
factors and human health advantages of the tunnel option will win the
day.

Sherwood Chorost, President,
Westchester Branch, Concerned Citizens for Responsible Development

Anonymous said...

More on Thruway -- we have to press state to get toll Yonkers toll eliminated -- this toll encourages more traffic to take local streets --

Paul Feiner said...

I agree with blogger that the tolls should be removed and am lobbying state officials to remove tolls. I also plan to include, in my 2007 budget, $30,000 to hire a consultant to help the town review and analyze the TZ bridge options. We must protect the interests of Greenburgh and its villages if and when the state decides to take action on the TZ bridge

vicweinstein said...

The proposed new TZ bridge will have a negative effect on Westchester and Greenburgh in particular. The proposed bridge will be 12 lanes, six in each direction. Where will this traffic come from? Rockland and Orange Counties. It will be easier for those residents to get to Westchester and therefore more housing will be built in those counties which would result in more traffic in Westchester.
Most of the proposals include a transportation segment that woiuld connect Rockland County to Port Chester.No complete survey has been done to determine the percentage of commuters that would use public transportation
Any of these segments would require exstensive condemnation of property in Greenburgh, change the character of neighborhoods and bring in additional traffic. The existing draft EIS states that there will be no improvements to I-287 from exit 1-4. Help
The cost to build this bridge with public transportation will be over $20 billion, yes billion.
The existing bridge works fine if there is no repairs, accidents or breakdowns.Upgrading the existing bridge,having tow trucks on patrol and making improvements to the toll plaza and easy-pass would eliminate the need a a major expenditure

DanO said...

Eliminating the I-87 toll booth at the Greenburgh/Yonkers line is something tangible and very worthwhile for the Town to work on. I am one of many culprits who exit at Stew Leonard to avoid the toll, just out of principle, although it would be more logical and efficient for me to exit at Ardsley.

Anonymous said...

Dano,

You got that right, I am embarrassed to say I do not even know where the ardsley exit is.

This should have been a demand re ridge hill

edgemontvoter said...

Great idea - eliminating the tolls makes good sense. Hope it happens. Thank you Dano.

Anonymous said...

Dear Edgemont voter -- that was one of your hated anons who suggested the toll be looked at -- go look above