February 6, 2013
The Mayor and Village officials met today with representatives from the Governor’s office and Tappan Zee Constructors (TZC), the contractor that will be building the new Tappan Zee Bridge. This initial meeting was to introduce us to the TZC team and set a framework for addressing issues of concern to the Village. The intention is go more in depth with each issue in subsequent meetings.
Issues were reviewed, including construction impacts, permanent impacts, and issues relating to the Village’s vision for redevelopment of Exit 10.
- Construction HoursThe Thruway’s contract with TZC allows TZC to operate from 7 AM to 7 PM M-F and 12 noon to 7 PM on Saturdays. TZC stated, though, that their plan is to work from 7 AM to 3:30 PM M-F. There are some exceptions to this, though. Overtime can happen if activities run late, but TZC intends to avoid this cost. When they are constructing the bridge’s main span towers, they will likely work up to 7 PM.
The Village is concerned that the noise limits allowed in the FEIS and contract may be unreasonably high. We are also concerned that repetitive impacts (from pile driving) would be particularly disturbing, even at lower decibel levels.
TZC said that pile driving will be the noisiest activity. The trial project last summer did not use any noise mitigation techniques. The actual project will use mostly vibration to set the piles. There will be some impact driving, though. TZC will use mitigation techniques, like shrouds to muffle the noise, but we do not know yet how loud this will end up being. Pile driving is expected to occur starting this summer and will end towards the end of 2014. When pile driving occurs, it will tend to last for a few mid-day hours.
- Property Damage from VibrationTZC is in the process of developing a plan to identify properties most likely to be potentially impacted. They will then work with the property owners to document the existing conditions, to be able to compare later to watch for damage. TZC expressed confidence that there won’t be any property damage.
- Construction Traffic and ParkingTZC has agreed that no construction trucks will traverse Village streets and workers will not be allowed to park on Village streets. Workers will park in off-site locations and be bussed to the work site. TZC says the vast majority of materials will be brought in by barge on the river. Some trucks will access the pier at the shoreline via the existing maintenance access ramps on either side of the Thruway at River Road. TZC will meet with the Village and police to work out details of enforcement and managing the crossing of River Road.
- Use of Exit 10 for Staging and ParkingThe area within the Exit 10 circle is a mess, with construction trailers, trucks, and materials. The Village has complained to the State about this for years, but we have been ignored. This construction mess is surrounded by residences and is an inappropriate use. The Village wants the use of this area eliminated. Unfortunately TZC has stated that they intend to use the Exit 10 area for parking, construction trailers, and staging of road construction equipment. The Village expressed our adamant opposition to this and will continue to press to find an alternative solution.
TZC did confirm that their use of Exit 10 is temporary. They will not be building any permanent structures on the site. The current Thruway maintenance building and NYS Police barracks next to the TZB toll plaza in Tarrytown will be rebuilt at that same location.
We learned that there is a possibility of a proposal to locate a temporary electronic toll structure over the Thruway in South Nyack. This is apparently not strictly part of the TZB replacement project, but has more to do with the Thruway’s recent proposals to explore the use of all-electronic toll collection. We have requested additional details about this proposal and its impacts on the Village.
- Compliance EnforcementTZC and the Thruway will be monitoring impacts, such as noise, and say they have a plan to address violations. The FEIS requires that the Village be involved with development of the plan, but so far the Thruway hasn’t included us. The Village has insisted that the compliance plan include not just processes to correct violations, but methods to discourage violations from occurring in the first place.
- Noise BarriersTZC’s plan includes the installation of permanent noise barriers. The exact location and materials are yet to be determined. Local residents, such as Salisbury Cooperative, are continuing to discuss the details with TZC. The Village needs to be actively involved in these discussions to support the residents and ensure that the solution is best for the Village.
- Shared-use Path TerminusThe current plan shows the shared-use (bike/pedestrian) path ending at the dead-end of Smith Avenue. The Village was not consulted in this. While the path is purported to be one of the great benefits of the new bridge, the Village has consistently maintained that the Thruway has ignored the potential downsides to the path. Who will use the path? How many people, bicycles? Where will they come from? Where will they park? Will they need bathroom facilities? How will security be maintained? These are permanent local impacts and require local involvement in the planning. The Thruway and TZC have agreed to start planning sessions with us to work collaboratively on the final design.
Vision for Exit 10
We also introduced the TZC team to our plan for economic redevelopment of the Exit 10 area. We explained how our vision is to bring permanent jobs, reduce taxes, and contribute to economic vitality for the river villages region. We stressed that details of the bridge landing design, such as the shared-use path, is best done in the context of how it would connect with our future plans. Our plan is designed to leverage the new construction and make it work to the benefit of our community. Just as the Governor has appointed a task force to study mass transit options while the bridge is being built, we have asked that our plans be studied in parallel as well. We were pleased to hear that the State is working on funding for our study.
Overall it was a positive meeting. Based on the conversation, we are cautiously optimistic that TZC and the State will make accommodations for most of our concerns. But the proof will be in how they actually deliver on their assurances.
It was mutually agreed that additional meetings will be held with the Village in the coming weeks to focus on these issues individually.