Board Approves Plan for New Tappan Zee Bridge
A New York state transportation board on Monday approved a $5.4 billion plan to build a new Tappan Zee Bridge in the New York City suburbs.
The New York Metropolitan Transportation Council voted unanimously to approve the project.
The county executives of Westchester, Rockland and Putnam, who all sit on the board, said last week that they will vote in favor of the project. The county executives did not attend Monday's meeting but sent representatives who joined the vote in favor.
Each of the three in effect held veto power because the council must approve a project unanimously to qualify it for federal funds.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo had garnered support from other officials but the three county executives - Rob Astorino of Westchester; Scott Vanderhoef of Rockland and MaryEllen Odell of Putnam - had expressed some doubts about the new bridge, principally over its lack of a full-scale mass transit component.
Under the current plan, the bridge will have a dedicated bus lane during rush hours but ambitious plans for a commuter rail line or bus mass transit were dropped for financial reasons.
Howard Glaser, director of state operations, called the vote "an important step forward."
"There's been 10 years of study, hundreds of public meetings, and finally we'll begin to move forward," Glaser said. "The bridge is outdated, it's unsafe. Residents of Westchester and Rockland and Putnam deserve better, and it's an important economic lifeline for all of New York State."
Cuomo planned an appearance with local officials regarding the bridge project later Monday.
The existing bridge, spanning the Hudson River between Westchester and Rockland counties, is overcrowded and deteriorating after more than 55 years of use.
The environmental group Riverkeeper on Friday criticized officials for giving only three days' notice for the vote on the new bridge.
In a statement Monday, Riverkeeper called the vote "a major departure from past promises of transparency and inclusiveness."