President Barack Obama has announced that the replacement for the Tappan Zee Bridge has been selected as one of 14 projects that will get a fast track review at the federal level.
Obama launched a competition for states to submit their high priority, job-creating projects in order to win expedited federal approvals, and New York submitted the Tappan Zee project. With an expedited federal review of the Environmental Impact Statement and the processing of permits, the Tappan Zee project could begin as early as next year, potentially creating more jobs than any other infrastructure project in the country, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“The Tappan Zee Bridge is a vital part of our state and region’s infrastructure,” Cuomo said. “The Tappan Zee Bridge project improves a key component of our state and nation’s infrastructure, and at the same time puts tens of thousands of New Yorkers back to work.”
In a press release reacting to the news, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-Harrison), said, “I am pleased the Tappan Zee Bridge is one of 14 high-priority projects that will benefit from expedited permitting and environmental review, which will help to begin construction of a new bridge soon. Reconstruction of the Tappan Zee—which is critical for commuters and travelers—will accelerate local job creation while maintaining and improving a critical link in our region’s transportation network."
The project, including necessary changes to the New York State Thruway in Westchester and Rockland counties, is expected to cost more than $16 billion.
“I urge the federal government to expedite approval for this important project which will create tens of thousands of jobs,” said state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. “Major investments in infrastructure are exactly what New York needs to jump-start our economy and restore safety to heavily traveled bridges and other arteries. I commend Governor Cuomo and Senator Fuschillo, the Chairman of the Senate's Transportation Committee, for their leadership on this critical project.”
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said that with support from the federal government, New York will be able to begin work on the Tappan Zee Bridge, ensuring this critical part of the Northeast’s infrastructure remains safe and reliable.
“Investments of this size have the potential to transform the region’s economy, create jobs, and renew confidence in our state’s economic revitalization,” Silver said. “Governor Cuomo has shown true leadership in rebuilding New York’s economy and I look forward to continuing to work together on critical infrastructure projects and creating jobs in our state.”
About 135,000 vehicles cross the bridge daily with upwards of 160,000 vehicles on some weekends, with a total of approximately 45 million vehicles in 2010.
Over the last 20 years, the Tappan Zee has shown significant deterioration, according to state officials, who note that with seven narrow lanes and no safety shoulders, the Tappan Zee has an accident rate double the rest of the New York Thruway system. The bridge is also vulnerable to severe storms, ship collisions and earthquakes.
A final design for the bridge and its connections has not yet been selected, with the scope of the project varying depending on whether a rail transportation component is included.