Lawsuit Challenges State’s Plan for NNYB Funding

Remember last Halloween?

New York State was celebrating a $1.6 billion loan, the largest in TIFIA (Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act) loan request history, and key financing for its bridge project.

This year, environmental groups are asking a court to prevent the state from using federal Clean Water Act funds — neither the recently diminished loan request nor the remaining $29 million that was approved — for the Tappan Zee Bridge project or for any such project other than their intended use.

The lawsuit — filed in State Supreme Court in Albany County by Pace Law School’s Environmental Litigation Clinic, which represents the groups — names state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens (who also chairs the facilities board) and other state leaders, and seeks “full denial of the attempted raid,” EANY Communications Director Travis Proulx said.

Governor Cuomo is not named in the documents.

The Tappan Zee project was not included in the State’s CWSRF Intended Use Plan when it was finalized in February 2014. The project was added four months later with no public notice or comment, in violation of Clean Water Act requirements spelled out in EPA regulations.

Proulx said the lawsuit seeks to deny the limited percentage of funding approved “because the state failed to follow due process and blocked public access to information and participation, which is required.”

eligible projects

Although few eligible items, an abundance of opposition.

In late June, the state’s Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) decided by unanimous (5 to 0) vote to loan the Thruway Authority $511.45 million from the Clean Water State Revolving Funds (CWSRF). And in July, three voting members of the Public Authorities Control Board agreed to its request for half of the $511 million.

Emphasizing that three agencies approved the loan — most of which the EPA nixed in September — EFC Director of Public Information Jon Sorensen said the money was approved “to finance those aspects of the New NY Bridge project that will implement existing plans to protect, restore and promote the Hudson River Estuary.”

Reducing project costs by up to $35 million will “help keep future bridge tolls as low as possible,” Sorensen said. “EFC intends to vigorously defend its right to finance Clean Water Act projects that benefit the Hudson River Estuary toll payers in the state.”

“The surest way to protect this vital funding source for its intended purpose is to make sure the Court has jurisdiction to enforce the Clean Water Act as necessary,” Riverkeeper, Inc. President Paul Gallay said.

At the NNYB site/© Janie Rosman 2014

EANY executive director Peter Iwanowicz claimed the future stability of the Clean Water Act was at stake because of the need to “fight to protect the (it) from executive overreach.” Given the urgent need for funding for water infrastructure, “the Cuomo Administration should be working with the EPA to develop the funding plan necessary.”

Legal costs — and why the lawsuit is being handled by neither internal lawyers nor the state Attorney General’s office — are unknown. There will be a hearing in January; the administration has a few weeks left to appeal the EPA’s September 16 decision.

“The EPA will then deliver a final decision which, we expect, will uphold the original ruling,” Proulx said. “Because of the ongoing appeal, it is still possible for terribly dangerous precedence to be set should the EPA come to an alternate conclusion.”

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2014

More About the Recently-Arrived Crane

I Lift NY has no self-navigation power/© Janie Rosman 2014

I Lift NY has no self-navigation power/© Janie Rosman 2014

If you’re like I am, you look (try to look, in my case) over the bridge rail to see to see what you can see. You can see the most recent arrival via a stretch of westbound highway a little past the main span, where the decline makes for good pictures. The Rockland approach eastbound also provides a clear view of the red, white and blue crane with yellow hooks, the site’s new addition.

Yesterday’s media tour shed perspective on how immense this machine is. While unable to leap tall buildings, it towers above many, and can hoist 12 Statues of Liberty in a single move.

Tappan Zee Bridge in the background/© Janie Rosman 2014

Tappan Zee Bridge in the background/© Janie Rosman 2014

Crews are prepping the crane for its tasks here. “When they go to set the first beam (of the new bridge), the versabar (system) is capable of picking up 1700 metric tons (1928 US tons,” crane operator Ron Burgess told reporters.

Check out the crane from the shorelines in either Tarrytown or Nyack. Even if you’re not at the viewing area , you’ll see it among the equipment. More tomorrow in the Rockland County Times and at http://www.rocklandtimes.com.

Bird's-eye view of the I Lift NY super crane/NNYB Outreach

Bird’s-eye view of the I Lift NY super crane/NNYB Outreach

Speaking of which, the few drops of water that landed on the media boat didn’t have a chance thanks to the warm weather, a quick move and rubber-soled shoes.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2014

Creative Halloween Fun w/Variations on a Bridge

Why wait for 2018? Tarrytown's Halloween parade had its own NNYB, designed and built by David Titcomb aided by Mary Kohrherr, Amy Bender, Anita McGovern, Sheila Sullivan, Nancy Zallo, Chris Swenson and Kyle McGovern/Photo: MK

Why wait for 2018? Tarrytown’s Halloween parade had its own NNYB, designed and built by David Titcomb aided by Mary Kohrherr, Amy Bender, Anita McGovern, Sheila Sullivan, Nancy Zallo, Chris Swenson and Kyle McGovern/Photo: MK

Did you see the awesome Halloween doings in the villages — Tarrytown, Sleepy Hollow and Nyack — last weekend? If you did, then you caught some of the unique bridge designs, like the one fashioned by David Titcomb. No worries if you missed them; you can see the Bridge Art Show in the Outreach Centers — 142 Main St., Nyack, and at 303 S. Broadway, Tarrytown — through Friday. Hours are Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. While there, watch the video and pose by the pilings.

Seen on the street in Nyack last weekend, the Tappan Zee Bridge was aglow with lights and gauze/NNYB Outreach

Seen on the street in Nyack last weekend, the Tappan Zee Bridge was aglow with lights and gauze/NNYB Outreach

While the weekend was fun, the new week brings traffic alerts. Coming up: two- and three-lane closures on I-87/I-287 northbound for paving near Exit 9 and the toll plaza. They’re detailed in the latest press release, as are the new electronic highway signs and boater safety. Since August, six lighted channel markers have guided them to and from the Piermont shore. Off-limits is the U.S. Coast Guard’s Safety Zone; know the expanded Regulated Navigation Area (RNA).

A candy bridge replica is keeping company w/the K'NEX model in Nyack/NNYB Outreach

A candy bridge replica is keeping company w/the K’NEX model in Nyack/NNYB Outreach

Who besides me has been checking the river for super crane sightings? The lane shifts and slower speeds gave me time to see what’s doing in the water (as far as I could see since I’m short).

Increased activity calls for heightened awareness. Safe boating, everyone.

Though it’s nearly Halloween, folks are on the water; heed restrictions. Check out the Coast Guard’s weekly Local Notice to Mariners, excerpted and in its entirety, listed under Boater Safety Information on the project’s website. A LNM primer is here.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2014

Cottage Lane Students’ New NY K’NEX Bridge

Technology teacher Jacob Tanenbaum was as excited as his young students when project officials paid a second visit to Cottage Lane Elementary School.

“Fifth grade science has a unit of study on bridge design that teaches engineering science,” Tanenbaum said. “Doing engineering with them, and building the K’NEX bridge, has been a wonderful experience.”

Problem-solving for some future engineers/NNYB Outreach

Problem-solving for some future engineers/NNYB Outreach

And since he’d never seen K’NEX pieces, Tanenbaum learned along with them. The bridge model — which includes cars, bicycles and a kayak or two below the spans — is prominently displayed and has gotten much attention.

“My students were thrilled to be part of the project in their own way. It’s hands-on learning for them to figure out how to engineer a copy of the bridge,” Tanenbaum said.

K’NEX Bridge is at Nyack Outreach Center/NNYB Outreach

K’NEX Bridge is at Nyack Outreach Center/NNYB Outreach

“The New NY Bridge is a once in a lifetime project and we want it to inspire local students at all levels from graduate school and college down to elementary classrooms. The goal of our educational outreach effort at all levels is to use this historic infrastructure project to inspire the next generation of bridge builders here in New York.” — Brian Conybeare, Special Project Advisor to Governor Andrew Cuomo

Year two of project officials’ five-year Educational Outreach Program focuses on “A Solid Foundation.” Unveiled in October 2013, the program, interest quickly spread. Well, that might be an understatement.

Massive crane leaving CA for New York/Jacob Tanenbaum

Massive crane leaving CA for New York/Jacob Tanenbaum

“They brought in part of the rebar, which is the size of your arm. The kids were excited to see and touch it,” Tanenbaum said of the presentation, which focused on the concrete batch plants and how the foundations are being constructed.

Tanenbaum was bicycling on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge’s shared use path with the I Lift NY set out for New York last December. The kids tracked its six-week progress with a geography lesson or two added for good measure.

Technology teacher Jacob Tanenbaum and the super crane

Technology teacher Jacob Tanenbaum and the super crane

New York State is considering adopting the Next Generation Science Standards. “The engineering standards especially are wonderful, and the kids have a real-life model in their neighborhood,” he said. And how!

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2014

The Fourth Estate, and then Some

Here on WordPress, I’ve developed a network of friends who blog as I do, each with our own style, format and content.

During my newsroom days, we said stories. With my resume, I mailed copies of articles or sent links to them. Journalists and reporters are often called content writers and content providers, one former editor told me. Why?

One friend left a news outlet when its management shifted from original reporting to templates requiring 300 words or less. Sounds like Mad Libs. Remember that game?

The skeleton story was there, and you’d ask friends for words — nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and so on — without telling them the topic of the story. The words they supplied were completely unrelated to the story you choose, and you collapsed into giggles as you read it with their contributions.

My point is: writing is not via cookie-cutter. I learned to add personal and/or historical insight about a subject when possible. Every story — even if previously told — is different the next time.

Matt, whose blog I follow, wrote about the keyboard today. I related to his post, and he related to my comment about it. He said, “26 letters, 10 numbers and a handful of symbols. That’s it. That’s all there is.”

We both know what infinite magic a keyboard can produce. And yes, I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2014

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