13 August 2012
New York governor Andrew Cuomo has written to the state’s Thruway Authority recommending that a wide-ranging selection panel should be convened to decide on the design of the new Tappan Zee Bridge.
He also called for an examination of how to keep tolls down for the planned US$5.2 billion bridge. Tender documents from three bidders are currently being assessed.
Cuomo recommended appointment of a different kind of selection panel that "goes beyond the usual technical and structural experts". “It is a multi-billion dollar infrastructure project in an environmentally sensitive area in one of the world’s most beautiful regions,” he said. There are many factors to consider including cost, engineering and transportation - but also the landscape, design, the fit with the natural beauty of the Hudson River, and the interests of the citizens in the surrounding communities. “The panel could include architects, historians of the river towns, international design experts, as well as local officials from Westchester and Rockland, regular citizens, and of course the appropriate technical experts that Thruway has identified,” he said.
For many residents, the bridge is the only practical crossing for commuting, shopping and visiting family. “I believe the projected 2017 toll schedule based on the Federal Highway Administration’s estimate of up to $5.2 billion for the new bridge is too high,” he said. “Over the next five years, we must find alternatives, revenue generators and cost reductions that reduce the potential toll increases.”
Cuomo said that he was pleased by a number of elements of the final environmental impact statement (FEIS) and the Thruways' design specifications. In particular, he welcomed the inclusion of mass transit capability. He also welcomed mitigation measures designed to ensure that the natural environment will be protected. The steps that will be taken include "bubble curtains" to protect fish from the noise of pile driving and limits on dredging and other protection measures that will protect wildlife in the Hudson River.