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Hudson Valley News

Sen. Schumer Urges Expedited Approval Of Shared-Use Plan For New TZB

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer is calling on the Federal Highway Administration to fast track approval of a shared-use plan for the new Tappan Zee Bridge. He especially supports local officials on the Rockland side in their preference for a particular plan.

New York’s senior senator stood steps away from the Hudson River on the Rockland County side in South Nyack Tuesday, at Gesner Avenue Waterfront Park, with the new Tappan Zee Bridge going up behind him. He says a certain pedestrian access plan in the village has strong local support and he is calling for federal help in moving the plan along.

“So I am here to urge the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to grant a federal waiver that would allow this project to move forward without going through the same rigmarole all over again,” says Schumer. “Delays, additional length of review of this proposal, which is less intrusive environmentally and widely supported by the community, could be detrimental to advance the efforts of this project.”

He aims to avoid lengthy reviews and potential delays that could increase costs and stall construction. Schumer says the FHWA — the lead federal agency on this project – must issue a “Finding of No Significant Impacts” on the Tappan Zee’s Shared-Use Path Parking Facilities and Bicycle/Pedestrian Connections project. Schumer explains that issuing this finding would waive parts of the National Environmental Policy Act process that would require the project to undergo an entirely new environmental review of this recently amended project alternative.

The Democrat has sent his request to the FHWA administrator. A spokesman for the Federal Highway Administration says the agency has received Schumer’s letter and is considering it. Again, Schumer.

“We want to stop the mistakes of the past because everyone knows, well those people who know the history know, that in 1955 when the bridge first built, there was no community input,” Schumer says. “In fact, the bridge ripped apart the community of South Nyack and people had no say.”

Here’s South Nyack Mayor Bonnie Christian.

“I’m a fourth generation South Nyacker so I was alive and a child when they were building the first bridge so we didn’t want that to happen again, the disruption to our small little village.”

Schumer, Christian and local elected officials and residents are behind a plan known as Alternative F that would provide off-street parking accommodations, connections to parking areas from the shared-use path, access from existing bicycle and pedestrian routes to the shared-use path and limited ancillary facilities.

“So they came up with something that is now called Alternative F, ‘F’ for fantastic,” says Schumer.

“Fantastic, the best,” says Christian.

“There you go. Is that what it really was F for?” Schumer asks Christian.

“Yes,” Christian answers.

“Excellent. I guessed right,” says Schumer. (Christian laughs.)

Alternative F involves rerouting access to the Thruway. Again, Mayor Christian.

“We’re the only village, in fact, that had a village street that goes on to the New York Thruway to get on so now we’re going to just reroute it,” Christian says. “I think people were concerned a little bit that we were closing the whole entrance. We’re not. We’re just rerouting it onto US9W and keeping it off our local streets.”

Also on the table is Alternative E, which includes off-street parking and restrooms in an area adjacent to the northern portion of Interchange 10 and does not reroute traffic to the Thruway. Alternative F involves land within the eastern section of Interchange 10. Christian points out that recent public hearings on the plans drew overwhelming support for F.

“And this is the one that keeps all the parking and traffic off of our local streets and puts everything on Interchange 10 where it should be,” says Christian.

On the Westchester side, in Tarrytown, Alternatives E and F are the same, where the shared-use plan involves all New York State Thruway Authority property. Overall, Schumer says the shared-use facilities provide opportunity.

“This important piece of the project can serve as a tourist attraction and create economic development throughout the Hudson Valley,” Schumer says.                                                                                               

Comments on the Environmental Assessment for the proposed Shared-Use Path Parking Facilities and Bicycle/Pedestrian Connections in the Villages of South Nyack and Tarrytown are due by April 1 to either the New York State Thruway Authority; state Department of Transportation; or the Federal Highway Administration.

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