(September 25, 2012)
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the Federal Highway Administration has issued a Record of Decision (ROD) approving the state's plan for a new bridge to replace the Tappan Zee. This federal approval completes the last step in the review of the project's environmental impact, allowing the state to move forward with implementing a plan to build a new bridge.
"In less than a year, the project to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge was expedited by President Obama, public hearings were held, the environmental review process was completed, and now the federal government has approved the plan," Governor Cuomo said. "With this major milestone, New York once again is demonstrating that we can make government work efficiently and effectively for the people of the state, and we can take a large step toward building a safer, better and more reliable bridge."
Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez said, "The construction of this new bridge will create thousands of jobs. It's a prime example of what President Obama called 'an America built to last.' When completed, it will make travel safer and more efficient in one of the nation's busiest areas - setting the stage for economic growth for years to come."
Congresswoman Nita Lowey said, "A new Tappan Zee Bridge is critical to move people and goods safely and efficiently throughout our state and the region. Today's signing is a hugely important step on the road to better transportation options for residents of Westchester and Rockland Counties and others. I will continue working with Governor Cuomo to ensure the federal government does its part to help New York with this project of national importance."
Congressman Eliot Engel said, "The Tappan Zee Bridge is a vital link for the upstate, downstate, and New England economies, and is the backbone to our region's transportation system. A replacement bridge is necessary for the safety of all New Yorkers, but our local communities also deserved a say in this project which will profoundly affect their homes and quality of life. I believe all voices have been heard, and the project has done everything possible to minimize the adverse effects of the project on residents. This project is very important and necessary to the Hudson Valley region and beyond, I commend everyone involved in the planning of the project for their hard work, and Governor Cuomo for his leadership in moving it forward. I look forward to the long-overdue groundbreaking in the near future."
Congresswoman Nan Hayworth said, "Replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge is a crucial project for our region's infrastructure and for transportation throughout the Northeast. I'm proud to be working with Governor Cuomo and his team and with our Hudson Valley business and construction communities, with whom I joined today in South Nyack, to make a new bridge a reality as quickly as possible. To that end, I've fought for the most generous Federal funding we can provide, including $2 billion from the TIFIA loan program included in the most recent federal surface transportation bill."
Representatives from a dozen federal and state agencies were in daily contact and met weekly throughout the environmental review process leading to the ROD. Federal agencies involved include the Federal Highway Administration; Environmental Protection Agency; National Marine Fisheries Service; U.S. Coast Guard; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; and Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. State agencies involved include the Department of Environmental Conservation; Department of State; Office of General Services; Thruway Authority; Department of Transportation; and Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
Environmental review of the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project was accelerated after the project was fast-tracked by President Obama on October 11, 2011, and all required steps in the process have been completed. A Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was released on January 24, 2012. In February and March, 1,100 individuals attended public hearings, and 3,000 submitted written comments on the DEIS.
The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was issued on August 1, 2012 and contained comprehensive requirements for mitigating environmental and public concerns raised on the impacts of construction. This included environmental protective steps such as use of bubble curtains to protect fish from acoustic effects of pile driving, limits on dredging to avoid peak fish migration and spawning and requiring that a National Marine and Fish Services approved species observer be present during dredging to ensure that any sturgeon captured during dredging are documented and released. As part of the environmental process the National Marine Fisheries Service issued a biological opinion in June stating the project will not be likely to result in jeopardy to the endangered shortnose or Atlantic sturgeon. The FEIS also includes extensive actions 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.
Senator Suzi Oppenheimer said, "This is another important step forward that demonstrates the federal government's commitment to this project and Governor Cuomo's leadership in addressing the issues necessary to make the new bridge a reality."
Senator Jeffrey Klein said, "This is a huge milestone for building a new bridge. Many federal agencies, including environmental agencies like Fish and Wildlife, have comprehensively reviewed this project and are now giving their sign off. This demonstrates that the federal government is fully confident that we can build a new bridge in a way that accommodates the community needs while protecting our environment. Today is another reminder of the Governor's unprecedented success in making a new Tappan Zee Bridge a reality."
Senator David Carlucci said, "Today's Record of Decision signing for the Final Environmental Impact Statement is an important milestone in the process of rebuilding a stronger Tappan Zee Bridge. I commend Governor Cuomo for issuing this plan that will ensure the right environmental protections are put in place and make certain this project remains transparent as we work to rebuild a safer, stronger bridge for future generations to enjoy."
Assembly Member Sandy Galef said, "The Tappan Zee Bridge Replacement is such an important project. I am grateful that President Obama recognized this as a priority project, that Governor Cuomo has expedited the necessary processes to move it forward, and that we can stop talking and start building in the foreseeable future. This next step is important to allow us to take action to put a safe, viable structure in place that will help our transportation network and our economy for decades to come."
Assembly Member J. Gary Pretlow said, "The signing of the joint ROD and SEQRA Findings Statement is a huge step forward for the plan to replace the Tappan Zee, and it represents an extraordinary achievement by Governor Cuomo and the state and federal officials who collaborated closely to get this done on an accelerated timetable."
Assembly Member Amy Paulin said, "I want to credit the Governor for his leadership in moving this important project forward. The Tappan Zee Bridge is critical to the economic and social well-being of all New Yorkers, from the metropolitan area to Buffalo and beyond."
Assembly Member George Latimer said, "This is the latest in a string of examples that has shown how effective Governor Cuomo and his team are in delivering results for taxpayers in line with what they deserve. Hudson Valley residents all understand the critical nature of building a new Tappan Zee Bridge now and we are thankful that the Governor has made this a priority and worked across many layers of government to move the process along. Like many other issues that have faced this State, the Governor has brought stakeholders to the table, taken feedback and made intelligent decisions that have clearly benefited New Yorkers and the result this time will be an improvement in local infrastructure and an infusion of much needed economic development."
Assembly Member Ellen Jaffee said, "The signing of the Record of Decision is a milestone in the process toward making the construction of the new TZ Bridge a reality. Moving forward, working with the river village communities, this will provide economic opportunities, while safeguarding the environmental impacts on the community and our precious Hudson River."
Assembly Member Robert Castelli said, "As an environmentalist, I am pleased that many federal agencies, like the Fish and Wildlife Service, have comprehensively reviewed this project and are now ready to sign off, without having taken any shortcuts. This once again demonstrates that our Federal government is confident that we can build this new bridge in a way that is responsible to the community and offers the best protections for the environment. My hat is off to Governor Cuomo and his team for having accomplished another milestone, proving more can be done in ten months than the past thirteen years when a dynamic leader, working with bipartisan cooperation, puts public service ahead of politics."
Assembly Member Shelley Mayer said, "I am pleased that we have reached this important milestone in the construction process of the Tappan Zee Bridge. With federal agencies, including environmental agencies, having comprehensively reviewed the plans, we can confidently move forward in building a new bridge that is so essential for our regional economy."
Marsha Gordon, President & CEO of the Business Council of Westchester, said, "Today's event represents another major milestone in building a new Tappan Zee Bridge. Many federal agencies, including environmental agencies such as the Fish and Wildlife Services, have comprehensively reviewed the project and their support clearly demonstrates that a new bridge can be built in a way that is both responsible to the community and protective of the environment."
Ross J. Pepe, President of Construction Industry Council of Westchester & Hudson Valley, Inc., said, "Receipt of the Federal Record of Decision for the Tappan Zee's replacement marks an historic milestone for New York State and a resounding validation of Governor Andrew Cuomo's efforts to expedite the approval process to build a new, safe Hudson River crossing. A new bridge will serve as the gateway for motorists and for the future economic prosperity of the region and the state. Finally, the promise of tens of thousands of direct and indirect jobs to build and support the construction program are near at a time of great need. We congratulate the Governor's team of state officials who have worked tirelessly over the past 12 months to make this moment come true."