Alternative to Demolition--Tappan Zee Bridge Park
By Jerson Renato Cochancela
If you have been wondering what fate has in store for the Tappan Zee Bridge, the Assemblyman's meeting on Friday was the place to be. Advocates for the repurposing of the TZ Bridge into a linear park were hopeful at a press meeting held on Friday in Assemblyman Tom Abinanti’s office located in Tarrytown, New York. White Plains Councilwoman Milagros Lecuona, Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner, and David Wilson, the Executive Director of the Bike Walk Alliance of Westchester & Putnam, were in attendance.
Jean Schneider, a former resident of The Quay of Tarrytown, envisioned the Tappan Zee Bridge as a linear park more than a decade ago. Ms. Schneider spoke to Sleepy Hollow-Tarrytown News,"I wrote to Supervisor Feiner and Governor George Pataki, and they acknowledged my idea twelve years ago. She continued, "I’ve always felt that the Hudson River is one of the most majestic rivers in the whole world – and we’re not making use of it.”
“I just want to make sure that people realize that we know the challenges, but we are also aware of that those challenges can be overcome... like the walkway over the Hudson” Lecuona stated. She cited the success New York City’s High Line has had with interest and donations as a motivation for the repurposing of the bridge. Among concerns, she specified parking and design. Additionally, the current proposition calls for two bridges to be built. Keeping the TZ Bridge would mean three bridges standing 300 feet apart. Lecuona detailed “We are asking the State to include the preservation of the existing bridge in their studies, their environmental impact statement, so that we know exactly where we stand with the infrastructure and if this idea can be possible. So, until we get a ‘No’, and see the studies, we’re going to keep pushing this idea.”
The Tappan Zee Bridge has been deemed eligible by the state Office of Historic Preservation for the National Register of Historic Places, a fact that Wilson hopes will strengthen their proposal. “The bottom line is that the Tappan Zee Bridge will have significant life left in it when its toll-collecting days are done… It could ignite a boom in healthy living and bolster economies on both sides of the river” said Wilson. At this point, the proponents of the idea are calling for consideration and citing that studies have not been done that take into account the environmental impact demolition and removal of the columns would have on the Hudson, the riverbed, and wildlife. Wilson added “There are substantial hurdles – money to develop it, the logistics of constructing the southernly span if the old Tappan Zee stays, and the condition of the bridge for usage by pedestrians and cyclists.
Assemblyman Abinanti stressed, "The federal environmental review must consider the preservation option, and seriously study the costs of demolishing the bridge from both a monetary and environmental perspective. Let's get all the facts.