Governor Andrew Cuomo should make replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge a top priority, Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino urged during a speech delivered at the Manhattan Institute’s Forum on Replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge.
“It is time for the planners and engineers to put their pencils down… To spend $83 million on thousands of pages of studies with no end in sight is governmental malpractice,” he said. “It is time to finish the planning for the bridge that we are actually going to build and move onto construction.”
Astorino said failure to move into construction would mean more wasted money on studies, higher costs for any project, and severe economic problems if the bridge had to be shut down.
He called on the governor to lead the way through political, legal and environmental obstacles because “he, more than anyone else, controls the levers and resources of government to get the job done.”
“My pledge to Governor Cuomo is that I am ready to stand with him,” Astorino said. “I am willing to invest whatever political capital I can bring to getting a new bridge built. But we must make the rebuilding a priority. Otherwise, the future will be filled with nothing but more expensive studies, more traffic congestion, more bureaucratic delays and more growing safety concerns.”
Officials are looking into replacing the 55-year-old Tappan Zee Bridge with a new 8-lane crossing. Proposed plans for the new bridge include lanes for buses, pedestrians, bicyclists and the ability to add commuter rail service. This fall, a Draft Environmental Impact Statement is expected to be released on the project.
In his speech, Astorino called for a practical plan for the bridge.
“The first rule is that we must have a plan that is practical enough to actually get the bridge built. Commuter rail trains over the Tappan Zee would be great to have. But how realistic is it to add $6 billion to a $9 billion project, when we don’t have the first $9 billion?”
The Tappan Zee Bridge spans three miles and connects Rockland County with Westchester County. Originally built to handle far less traffic and congestion, the bridge now sees approximately 140,000 vehicles crossing it every day.
“We need to say yes to the bridge,” Astorino said. “Once we commit to a future course, we must stay on it.”