Governor Boasts of Accelerating the TPZ, Still Vague on Transit & How to Pay for It

Governor Cuomo discussed the Tappan Zee project in his cabinet meeting yesterday. He continues to maintain that the bridge will be designed to “support transit” saying the new bridge will “immediately support express bus service between Rockland and Westchester.” The bridge already carries the Tappan Zee “Express” buses, which get stuck in the same traffic as single-occupant vehicles on the bridge and along the corridor. Will the State dedicate lanes on the new bridge for buses or buses and HOV? That would be progress.

The Governor also laid out projected costs for building bus rapid transit and light rail connections to Rockland and Westchester. But is he or his staff actually getting serious about hammering out plans for these projects and ways to fund them with the County Executives? The Journal News recently reported that Rockland County Executive Vanderhoef  has already pitched a proposal to the NYS DOT Commissioner, Joan McDonald, whom the Journal News described as “non-committal.”

The Governor and NYS DOT could also demonstrate their commitment to making transit a reality by beginning the transit EIS in parallel with the bridge EIS.

Continue reading

State Launches New TPZ Website

The state has created a new website for the Tappan Zee project. Stakeholders can find updated information on the new process including a document timeline and calendar of upcoming meetings here: http://www.thenewtzb.ny.gov/

New Radio Ads – Tell Albany to Put Transit Back in the Tappan Zee

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign, has started running radio ads urging Rockland and Westchester residents to demand transit on the Tappan Zee Bridge’s replacement. Public hearings on the project’s draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) will take place on February 28 and March 1. The ad text is as follows:

It’s now or never to tame traffic on the Tappan Zee. New York State plans to replace the bridge, but they cut transit out of the plan. Bus rapid transit on the bridge will ease congestion, reduce pollution, create jobs, improve the economy, and get people where they want to go. Without transit, we’ll be stuck in traffic for decades. Tell Albany—we need transit on the Tappan Zee. Visit
www.brtonthebridge.org.

Continue reading

Does the Tappan Zee Replacement Really Leave Room for Transit?

Reblogged from Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s Mobilizing the Region.

MTR examines whether or not the bridge structure proposed in the DEIS would preclude future transit initiatives. New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald has said that the new bridge is being built in a way that will allow for public transportation, be it commuter rail or bus rapid transit. However, our analysis shows that the DEIS does not adequately justify this statement. In particular, the landings on either side of the bridge may not be wide enough to accommodate bus rapid transit.

While the state has repeatedly claimed that the Tappan Zee Hudson River Crossing Project “does not preclude future trans-Hudson transit service” in the I-287 corridor, the DEIS suggests that the state has not fully examined how future transit systems would integrate with the proposed two-span bridge design.

Read more on TSTC’s blog.

Tappan Zee DEIS Raises Questions About Funding, Cost Estimates

Reblogged from Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s Mobilizing the Region.

The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and New York State Thruway Authority (NYSTA)  recently released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement. Despite popular demand for better public transit in the I-287 corridor, the project’s draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) makes few provisions for public transportation in the Lower Hudson Valley. Many residents want a bus rapid transit (BRT) system. 

Over the next two weeks, a series of Mobilizing the Region posts will explain why the state is wrong to conclude that the Tappan Zee should be built without bus rapid transit. Today, we examine the DEIS’ faulty assessment of the cost of putting transit on the Tappan Zee.

In the DEIS, the state argues that including transit on the Tappan Zee would be too expensive. This conclusion rests on two problematic arguments.

  • First, the state asserts that an anticipated $16 billion funding shortfall means there is not enough money to include transit in the project, but it nonetheless manages to find billions of dollars for a multiple span bridge.
  • Second, the state’s cost estimates for BRT and commuter rail conflict with previous projections, but this change is not adequately explained.

Read more on TSTC’s blog.

UPDATED: State Seeks $2 billion Federal Loan for Bridge

According to Bloomberg News today the State is seeking a $3$2 billion federal loan for the Tappan Zee project (the number was updated by several news sources today). The State has applied for the loan via Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA). Current laws state that TIFIA funds can only be used to pay for up to 1/3 of a project’s total estimated cost. According to Bloomberg “If New York is applying for the full amount, that would make the value of the project $6 billion.” That might mean there would be money available above and beyond the $5.2 billion estimated pricetag to build transit after all. And including transit in the project might make the proposal more appealing to the feds as well.

The US DOT uses a range of criteria to evaluate applications for the TIFIA program including environment and sustainability. Specifically, projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, encourage use of alternative transportation, reduce reliance on foreign oil, and promote livability are more likely to receive federal loans. Right now, the State’s plan does not of these things.

Adding bus rapid transit to the bridge and the I-287 corridor has strong regional support. And it might just help get this project the funding it needs.

Croton-on-Hudson Passes Resolution in Support of Transit on the Tappan Zee

On February 6th, the Village of Croton-on-Hudson followed the lead of Hastings-on-Hudson and passed a resolution calling on the State, the FHWA and the FTA to restore transit to the Tappan Zee Bridge project.

Croton-on-Hudson cited the need for transit to reduce the burden of traffic on communities near the Tappan Zee Bridge and called on New York State and the Federal Highway Administration to “not repeat the mistakes of the past by locking in automobile- and truck-only infrastructure in this important Corridor for decades to come.”

Read the Croton-on-Hudson resolution.

Tri-State Transportation Campaign Calls on Local Mayors to Get Involved

Yesterday the Tri-State Transportation Campaign sent a letter to Rockland and Westchester Mayors and stakeholders inviting them to get involved in support of transit in the Tappan Zee project. The text of the letter is below.

***

Dear Tappan Zee Bridge Stakeholder:

We write on behalf of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign and over 25 environmental, good government and labor groups that are calling on Governor Cuomo to put transit back into the Tappan Zee Bridge project. Now fourteen municipalities in Westchester, as part of the Northern Westchester Energy Action Consortium, have passed a resolution in support of including transit from the start of this project. And in our meetings with many of you, you have expressed interested in passing resolutions of your own.

This is a crucial time for this project. The public comment period on the Tappan Zee is open through March 15th, and we believe this is the best shot we have to win changes to the project. Can you help?

Continue reading

Riverkeepers say State’s DEIS “shortchanges the public”

Riverkeeper, a member-supported environmental watchdog organization dedicated to defending the Hudson River has released a statement saying the State’s DEIS “fails to address alternatives and limits meaningful public participation”. Specifically the Riverkeeper point out that the DEIS “Fails to include mass transit options, and by doing so, does not adequately address resulting traffic congestion as a contributor to pollution, ultimately affecting the Hudson River.” They also take issue with the short timeframe the State has set for comments to be returned on the DEIS and the fact that the State has only scheduled two public hearings on this important matter.

Read Riverkeeper’s full statement on the Tappan Zee DEIS.

State Releases Draft Environmental Impact Statement

The State today released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Tappan Zee Bridge project. The DEIS is a lengthy document and it will take some time to sift through the entire thing. We will post more information about the DEIS shortly. For now, you can  peruse it for yourself at: http://www.tzbsite.com/tzbsite_2/deis_2.html.

Please save the date for the two public hearings on the DEIS:

Rockland County
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Palisades Center
4th Floor Community Rooms
1000 Palisades Center Drive
West Nyack, New York 10994
4:00—9:00 p.m.

Westchester County
Thursday, March 1, 2012
Westchester Marriott
Grand Ballroom
670 White Plains Road
Tarrytown, New York 10591
4:00—9:00 p.m.

Written comments on the DEIS will also be accepted by the State up until March 15, 2012. You may send your comments via e-mail to: tzbsite@dot.state.ny.us

or via post to:

Michael P. Anderson
Project Director
New York State Dept. of Transportation
4 Burnett Boulevard
Poughkeepsie, New York 12603
Telephone: 877-892-3685