The Tappan Zee Bridge’s days are numbered, and a transit-laden span will soon replace it. (Photo by flickr user vb.rm)
After years of talks and study, state officials on Friday unveiled their $16-billion plan to build a new span crossing the Hudson River to replace the aging Tappan Zee Bridge. This new river crossing will high-speed, dedicated bus lanes and Metro-North tracks as well, ushering in a new age of transit along the area’s river crossings.
William Neuman had had more about the ambitious plan:
Officials did not say how they would pay for the project; they said they would work with a financial adviser to come up with financing options. The state transportation commissioner, Astrid C. Glynn, said that the state would seek federal financing for part of the project and that a partnership involving some form of private financing would also be considered…
Officials said the bridge itself would cost $6.4 billion. A high-speed bus corridor running from Suffern to Port Chester would cost $2.9 billion. And it would cost an additional $6.7 billion to build a new rail line that would go from the Metro-North station in Suffern and across the bridge, connecting with Metro-North’s Hudson Line south of Tarrytown.
As the 53-year-old bridge has long been the victim of overuse, this is good news in general for the region. That the planners have opted to include transit options from the start speaks volumes of the progress road planners have made over the last few decades. When the original span was constructed in 1955, none of the area’s numerous bridges or tunnels had space for transit, and in fact, Robert Moses used his power within New York City to ensure that key arteries — such as the BQE — intentionally neglected mass transportation options.
The Tri-State Transportation Campaign addressed the transit aspect of the new bridge:
The full corridor BRT/Rockland-NYC commuter rail combination is projected to attract more new and total transit riders than any other combination the team considered: 79,900 average weekday riders, with 31,200 of those being new riders not diverted from other transit systems..
The BRT service would begin operation on “day one” of the bridge’s opening, according to NYSDOT Commissioner Astrid Glynn, but the commuter rail line might not, depending on the construction schedule and whether sufficient funding was available. Glynn said that project design could begin in 2010 with construction starting in 2012, if the team stuck to an “aggressive schedule.” Needless to say, the study team does not have a good track record when it comes to timeliness.
In the end, this plan still has a long way to go before it becomes a reality. There will be multiple hearings and a search for the money. Then, we’ll have construction along with skyrocketing construction costs and a requisite multi-year delay. But no matter the final completion date or price tag, the study team should be praised for their attention to the times. A rail line from Grand Central up the Tappan Zee corridor will be a boon for the entire region. While it’s coming decades too late, transit is finally getting the respect it deserves in an automobile-centric world. I yearn for the day when all of our river crossings have dedicated bus lanes and rail lines running over them.