Monday, February 27, 2012


Editorial: Why not turn Tappan Zee Bridge into park?

10:37 PM, Feb. 23, 2012 |
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A Journal News editorial

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There doubtless are quite a few Hudson Valley commuters still coming to terms with the notion there actually will be a new Tappan Zee Bridge, and quite possibly before they draw their last breath. Now comes word, from the Thruway Authority and governor no less, that another seemingly farfetched idea — turning the existing bridge into a crossing for pedestrians and bicyclists — is gaining real attention. They are tearing the nay right out of naysaying.

Facing the prospect of a $150 million bill for demolishing the three-mile span, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Thruway Authority Executive Director Thomas Madison said Wednesday they are exploring the possibility of turning the Tappan Zee into a greenway for pedestrians and bicyclists. “Could you leave it up and what are the economics and the practicalities of that?” Cuomo said during a cabinet meeting in Albany. “It’s an exciting option.”

Well, we guess it is when he says so. When Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner suggested the same last fall, in a Community View on the Opinion page and also in a New York Times article, one could almost hear strains from “Man of La Mancha,” critics thought the endeavor so quixotic.

Wrote Feiner: “The proposal to turn the bridge into a park like the High Line (in Manhattan) would be a big boost to the local economy, promoting tourism and helping local businesses on both sides of the river.” He pledged to form a committee to press state officials on the matter. (Feiner and White Plains Councilwoman Milagros Lecuona co-chair the local effort; visit to learn more.)

If it sounds like Feiner was out on a limb, consider Tarrytown resident Jean Schneider. She started down the bridge-as-park route more than a decade ago, making her pitch to then-Gov. George Pataki. In a 2002 news article, Schneider called hers a “wild, wild dream.” In a letter to the editor just weeks ago, Schneider recalled the early effort. She wrote: “What inspired me was that I felt so deeply that we have lost the art of walking, communicating face to face enjoying nature at its finest, enjoying the seasons while savoring the ever-changing moods and rhythm of the river.”

Being spared that $150 million demolition bill would be nice as well — to go along with the satisfaction of making a smart, adaptive use out of something otherwise destined for the scrap heap. Communities are getting better at seeing the possibilities — consider waterfront makeovers up and down the East Coast; Bankside Power Station in London; Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco; Reading Terminal in Philadelphia; New York’s High Line and Meatpacking District; and the so-called “Low Line” park in Gotham, a virtually impossible (and amazing) plan for an abandoned trolley terminal.

Often it’s visionaries who move such projects along, until they gain official notice and favor — and private and public support; these individuals see opportunity where others cannot begin to imagine windmills.

Ours would be dull and wasteful places without them.

Now, if we could only get them to build this new bridge we have been hearing so much about ...

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