After years of planning, mounting anxiety over tentative toll hikes and contentious debates over land use, the effort to build a new Tappan Zee Bridge is slated to move forward.
The $5.2 billion project cleared its final review hurdle Tuesday, Sept. 25 upon receiving approval from the Federal Highway Administration. The federal agency issued a positive Record of Decision (ROD) for the new span, which has been championed by Governor Andrew Cuomo and White House officials.
The state can now begin planning for the crossing's construction, which is estimated to take five years and will be carried out by one of three interested bidders.
"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," Cuomo said Tuesday. "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."
Cuomo stopped in Piermont last month, urging residents to support the new span while flanked by a handful of local lawmakers. Cuomo is actively seeking federal funds to help finance the billion-dollar undertaking.
Tolls on the crossing may rise to $14 to fund the build, state officials said earlier this summer, but that uptick is too excessive, according to Cuomo.
The state released a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) in early August, a dossier of reports and findings that unpack the impact of a new Hudson span. The FEIS tackles traffic issues and environmental concerns.
The project will be an economic boon, Federal Transportation officials said Tuesday.
"The construction of this new bridge will create thousands of jobs," Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez said. "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."
Local politicos have lauded the news, with Sen. David Carlucci calling the step forward "an important milestone," and Rep. Nita Lowey hailing it as "a hugely important step."
Other Rocklanders have taken direct issue with the build; non-profit environmental group Riverkeeper has threatened to sue over the project, and residents near the Hudson's shore have said construction will disrupt their quality of life.