Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Tappan Zee bridge guest commentary from former Tarrytown Trustee

Why No Tunnels?

The State Department of Transportation (the lead agency for the Tappan Zee Bridge project) has refused to consider a tunnel alternative and this could be a serious and costly mistake.
In an era when tunnels are being built around the world instead of bridges, it is difficult to understand the reluctance of the D.O.T. to consider this option either as a replacement for the bridge or simply as a supplement to the current crossing. Tunnels similar in length to this span are being built in other parts of the world in less time than it takes to build a bridge and for less money
The Tappan Zee Bridge is now undergoing a replacement of the causeway decking at an estimated cost of approximately $150 million. If past experience is any guide to the future, the final cost could be a great deal more. Commuters will most likely have to pay for this rehabilitation with increased tolls.
This money could be down the drain if the Thruway and the D.O.T. go through with their plans to demolish this bridge and replace it with one that could be twice the width. A replacement bridge is projected to cost $14.5 billion. But that estimate is several years old. In current dollars, it could be considerably more. This figure also does not include either the money now being spent for the deck replacement or the cost of demolishing the existing bridge.
In the N.Y. State agencies’ Alternative Analysis Report of 2006, eleven reasons were cited for eliminating a tunnel option. Experts have challenged these reasons. For example, five of the arguments used for discarding tunnels are based on a comparison between a bridge and a tunnel. The question is, how can any comparison be made until there is a basic bridge design showing realistic foundations? Thus far these designs have not been put forth. Advances in modern tunneling technology suggest that there is ample evidence to dispute the remaining six objections
Tunneling is not a foreign concept to the D.O.T. During a Stakeholders Advisory Working Group meeting, tunnels were proposed for a possible commuter rail because of the varying elevations in Rockland and Westchester Counties. These varying grades are too difficult for rail to negotiate at surface level. However, no consideration was given to a tunnel under the Hudson that could be used to accommodate trucks and some form of mass transportation.
Removing trucks from the bridge could extend the life of a rehabilitated bridge by many years. Tunnels also offer the opportunity to scrub truck exhaust pollutants before they’re released into the air. This is a major consideration as our region’s air quality has been out of compliance with federal clean air standards for years. Further, the removal of trucks and mass transportation from the bridge would help cars cross the bridge more quickly and safely allowing more room for anticipated future increases in automobile volume.
So what’s stopping the D.O.T. from even considering a tunnel across the Hudson? Why won’t the department allow a tunnel alternative to go through the mandated environmental review process? It’s a question that begs a proper response.
Concerned Citizens for Responsible Development is committed to finding an unbiased and balanced answer to the traffic needs in this corridor. What is needed is a solution that respects the property and health of the residents of Rockland and Westchester and is realistically attainable.
We plan to present to the public regular reports about the status of the Tappan Zee Bridge project as they become available. In addition, we will be reviewing various aspects of this endeavor as they relate to air quality, land use, funding and environmental considerations.

Concerned Citizens for Responsible Development
George Sherman, President, Rockland Branch
Sherwood Chorost, President, Westchester Branch

“Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting! Keep us updated. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Hey - isn't that the same Sherwood Chorost who was unable to get the Greenburgh Republican Party out of its self-destructive phase?
Just the guy to oversee the development of a regional transportation debacle.