Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced another major milestone in the project for building a new bridge to replace the Tappan Zee with the release of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), a document compiled by agencies on all levels of government with comprehensive responses to thousands of comments from the public. A summary of the FEIS is available at http://www.newnybridge.com/documents/feis/feis-summary.pdf and a full copy of the FEIS is available at http://www.newnybridge.com/documents/feis/.
Building this new bridge is one of our states the largest infrastructure projects and, as we move forward, we are making every effort to limit negative impacts on residents and the environment, said Governor Cuomo. The Final Environmental Impact Statement is our comprehensive plan for protecting the local environment and the well-being of nearby communities during the construction process. From requiring extensive environmental protections to providing real-time online monitoring of construction activities, our goal is to have a responsible, effective and open process for building a new better bridge.
The FEIS includes extensive actions that will be taken to mitigate public concerns, including installing 24-hour video cameras to document the project, noise monitors to measure construction noise and air quality monitors to assess emissions. The public will be able to access real-time video, construction noise levels and air quality measurements at www.newNYBridge.com.
Separate from the FEIS process, Governor Cuomo and his team are taking steps to open the design and procurement process to the maximum extent allowable by law. In order to ensure transparency and solicit public feedback, all bidders will be invited to voluntarily make a public presentation of their general design concepts subject to Federal approval. In addition, a Blue Ribbon Selection Committee will be formed with representatives from Westchester and Rockland counties to engage public input and weigh in on the final selection.
The FEIS was compiled from over 3,000 public comments and public hearings that were attended by over 1,100 people. The majority of these comments involved the following four areas:
- Construction Impacts: Noise, Air/Dust, Traffic
- Design Aesthetics of the New Bridge
- Impacts on River Environment
- Additional Transit Capability
The following is a summary of mitigation efforts that will be taken in building a new bridge to mitigate these concerns.
Concerns Regarding Construction
Through the installation of noise monitors in areas around the project, the public will be able to track in real-time the noise being produced by construction. Residents will be consulted on location of noise monitors before, during and after the project. They will also have 24-hour access to real-time data from the monitors at www.newNYBridge.com.
- This extensive monitoring, internal reporting, and management of noise levels will ensure that the Design-Builder does not exceed strict noise level requirements:
- Any time noise levels exceed the maximum noise permitted, the Design-Builder is required to identify them within 30 minutes of the occurrence;
- The activity causing the excess noise will be mitigated within one hour of the first occurrence to ensure its not repeated.
Concerns Regarding Environmental Impact
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued a biological opinion on 6/22/12 stating the project will not be likely to result in jeopardy to the endangered shortnose or Atlantic sturgeon.
The project will be constructed using a number of resource protection measures and conservation measures which will minimize any adverse effects on fish such as:
- Limits on the time of year that dredging can occur in order to avoid times of peak fish migration and spawning in the river (dredging will only be done August 1-November 1);
- During the dredge operation, a NMFS approved species observer will be present to ensure that any sturgeon captured by the dredge are documented and released;
- Use of silt curtains and cofferdams to minimize the discharge of sediments into the river;
- Use of bubble curtains and other technologies to minimize acoustic effects of piles driving on the fish;
- Builders will be required to use vibration techniques to install pilings in river bed whenever possible instead of much louder pile driving resulting in less impact on fish and other aquatic life.
Concerns Regarding Transit Capability
The Replacement Bridge Alternative will be designed so that it could accommodate transit in the future. The proposed project will not preclude any future planning for, or implementation of, a mass transit system.
Consideration for future transit is being incorporated into the design of the project by the addition of likely transit add-on space and extra strengthening of the structure to accept the increased loads of transit which is estimated to cost $300 million.
The new bridge could support the ability for express bus services to utilize the extra wide shoulders on the bridge. Use of the extra wide shoulders could occur during peak hours to reduce travel time across the bridge.