TARRYTOWN, N.Y. A dedicated bus-rapid transit system is crucial to the new Tappan Zee Bridge and should be included to avoid congestion and air pollution, as well as the double disruption that would occur if it were added later, the League of Women Voters of Westchester says.
"We believe we must look to the long-term residential, environmental and economic development of the entire region," said Kristina McCarthy, reading a statement from the League of Women Voters. "Let us structure a bridge that will work and that we can be proud of in the long term."
The debate over whether the new Tappan Zee Bridge should include a mass-transit system continued Thursday night at the Tarrytown Senior Center during a League of Women Voters forum.
New York State Thruway Executive Director Thomas Madison joined Tri-State Transportation Campaign Associate Director Veronica Vanterpool and Construction Industry Council of Westchester and Hudson Valley President Ross Pepe in speaking about the new bridge and to answer questions from the community.
Madison continued to stress that the new Tappan Zee Bridge, which will include two twin spans about 300 feet north of the existing bridge, will not preclude the addition of mass transit in the future. But the new bridge could not be built with a bus-rapid transit system or a dedicated rail system because of cost concerns and a lack of a mass-transit system in the regional corridor of I-287-I-87. The new bridge will have the express bus service that operates today, Madison said.
Pepe, too, said the time was not right to include a mass-transit system, although everyone agreed it would be beneficial. It's more important to get the bridge built, he said, and not wait to find additional funding for a mass-transit system.
"The cost of transit today is not doable," he said.
Vanterpool disagreed, saying the region needs "a long-term congestion relief plan." The addition of a bus rapid-transit system would make the state's $2 billion federal highway loan application more attractive during the next round of funding, she said.
The proposed bridge will reduce congestion, Madison said. It includes more lanes and work will be done off the bridge at the entrances to fix the "chokepoints" that often lead to accidents, he said.
Joyce Lannert and others asked why the bridge proposal included a stipulation that it would not preclude rail transportation, saying there was no feasible way to connect a rail line from the bridge to Metro-North. Madison said the state was "officially agnostic" on the type of mass-transit that will be added when financially feasible.
"Our objective is to ensure that we don't preclude any mode of transit," he said.
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