A crowd of 120-plus packed the Ellipse room at Rockland Community College Thursday night to listen to state officials and experts talk about the and possible toll hikes.
Secretary to the Governor Larry Schwartz said tolls for the new bridge could cost $14 when the span opens, most likely in 2017. He added that the George Washington Bridge will increase its tolls to $14 within the next two years, and he expects they’ll go up again before the new Tappan Zee Bridge is expected to open.
The Tappan Zee Bridge toll is currently $5, or $4.75 with E-ZPass, with additional deals for commuters and carpooling commuters.
“They should just build a three-lane bridge,” Lynn Teger, of Haverstraw said. “Just a lane for walkers, a lane for bicycles and a lane for buses, because at this rate nobody is going to be able to afford driving over the bridge.”
The meeting, originally scheduled for last week but canceled due to a storm, was part of four and Rockland to discuss the options for the new bridge.
New York State Thruway Authority director Tom Madison said there are three options for the project: fix the current bridge, build a new county transit system or build a new bridge. Of the three, Madison said the third option is “the most sensible and smartest option given the situation we’re in now, given the economic circumstances and also given the need to replace this bridge as fast as we possibly can.”
The meeting also touched on some recent developments relating to the bridge. Schwartz said the state recently from groups to design and build the new bridge. He said the state will review the three bids, which are approximately a combined 750,000 pages, for completeness and compliance over the next month.
He also talked about the . He said that while the document is also thousands of pages, that doesn’t mean other issues can’t still be addressed.
“I heard the issues and concerns about noise and air quality, impacts on quality of life, and because it’s not necessarily addressed in the FEIS does not mean that your concerns are not going to be addressed,” he said. “I promised you I would get to back all of you, I promised that in a full due diligence effort go back and look at all the transcripts, everything that was said in public meetings, in writing, not in writing.”
He added that the state will work with homeowners and local residents, as well as local governments, to go over their concerns. He also said they will discuss where to place monitors during construction. They will monitor for air quality, noise and vibration.
“We will work on where those monitors get placed so people feel that when there’s a reading, it will be accurate,” he said, adding that real time results will be available online.
Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski spoke at the meeting to address some concerns he’s heard about the new bridge.
“What I’ve heard from my constituents is that they want to see that, perhaps, as this project is going on or as it’s completed that there are set goals and standards that they can look to,” he said. “What they’re concerned about is that this project will be built, it’ll on the back burner, it’ll be in another part of the state, and this will be something that languishes for 30, 40 years.”
Other concerns raised at Thursday’s meeting include how the bridge will affect the river and the animals that live there. Mark Roach, an engineer on the panel Thursday night, said there are two endangered species in the river, both kinds of sturgeon, and their tests, as well as an outside agency, don’ think the construction will be detrimental to the fish.
He also said that to keep the noise down for the fish, they will use a bubble curtain, which he described as something that surrounds the construction and it releases bubbles from the riverbed up through the water that traps the noise.
Roach said that another test showed that to reduce noise during construction, they can vibrate items down instead of hit them with a hammer, which he added is a much quieter option.