Top Secret: The Five Ws — And How!

Can it be? Two years ago I wrote, “Westchester and Rockland County residents won’t be held hostage to inflated fares on the new Tappan Zee Hudson River Crossing.”

Tappan-Zee-Bridge-toll-plaza

Double entendre, the header.

I learned the five W questions — who, when, where, what and why — plus “How?” The phrase “and how” means very much so, a strong confirmation. “And how” in header confirms the five Ws and asks “How?”

Back to the questions. Who knows the bottom line about fare hikes? When‘s it going to take effect? Where will it be applied? What is the reason for it? Why are we told different answers each time we ask?

Lots of unknowns about the toll hike. It’s a reality. When is anybody’s guess. We can figure out where and the reason, too.

Miracles happen. I believe in them. Days before we got the $1.6 billion Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan, Standard & Poor’s downgraded the Thruway Authority’s long-term bond rating from A+ to A due to concern about potential toll increases.

TIFIA funds are usually limited to 33 percent of total project costs. Who said the New NY Bridge is a usual project?

Our asked-for amount was approved plus another $500 million to boot. Miracle right there. Fast-forward to the EPA’s recent decision. Now comes the appeal.

* * * * *

The first span will open 18 months from now in March/April 2016, and both spans will be raring to go in March/April 2018. I heard Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC (TZC) will shell out plenty if the Thruway Authority doesn’t have keys in hand by the 2018 opening date.

Eighteen months until we drive across one new span.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2014

Far from Falling Down, London Bridge is Rockin’

Thanks for the Saturday smile! Twitter page is ICE ‏@ICE_engineers.

This was published September 19, 2014

The civil engineers behind some of the London’s most iconic infrastructure projects have put on their dancing shoes to show the public – young people in particular – how happy they are to be engineers and the diverse and exciting careers on offer through choosing maths and science subjects at school.

The film, commissioned by the Institution of Civil Engineers in association with Bechtel, showcases some of London’s world class infrastructure projects and the teams behind them including Crossrail, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the Thames Barrier, London Underground, Walton Bridge, Kings Cross Station and the Hammersmith Flyover.

Director – Jevan Chowdhury, Wind & Foster
Producer – Miranda Housden, Director, ICE London
Movement Direction – Jeanefer Jean-Charles
Director of Photography – Michael Osaer

Would you like to see New NY Bridge and Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC (TZC) engineers and staff/construction crew in a dancing video?

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2014

Public Comment Period Closed re TZC Permit Applications at Upriver Staging Area

Yesterday was the deadline for public comments re the Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC (TZC) staging area upriver. Here is the DEC’s response to my recent update request. I thought the agency would amend its notice by changing the tense since today is September 19, and the deadline was yesterday. So I did.

And I edited two sentences via red that were grammatically ‘eh’ and corrected a misspelled word.

Barge near Rockland side of TZ Bridge/© Janie Rosman 2014

Barge near Rockland side of TZ Bridge/© Janie Rosman 2014

DEC staff visited the Port of Coeymans after being alerted of possible violations related to work being performed by Tappan Zee Constructors, and directed the company to cease operations immediately.  DEC continues to investigate the situation and will determine appropriate action.  DEC is continuing to review the permit applications.

Below is the notice to extend (omitted word) public comments until September 18, 2014.

Extension of Public Comment Period for the Port of Coeymans located Proposed Bridge Section Assembly Facility for the New New York/Tappan Zee Bridge Project.

Applicant:
Tappan Zee Constructors LLC
555 White Plains Road Suite 400
Tarrytown, NY 10591

Facility:
River Road, Port of Coeymans
Coeymans, NY

Application ID: 4-0124-00140/00001

Proposed bridge section assembly facility by Tappan Zee Constructors for the New NY/Tappan Zee Bridge. This proposed assembly facility to be located at the existing Port of Coeymans on the Hudson River in Albany County would accept construction materials mainly by barge and some by truck which are to then be fabricated into bridge sections that are then to be placed on barges for shipment to and installation at the NNY/TZ Bridge site in Rockland/Westchester Counties spanning the Hudson River.

Site preparation includes: 1) demolishing an existing building and constructing the bridge section fabrication facility; 2) dredging to a 12 foot depth by environmental clamshell bucket removing approximately 10,000 cubic yards from a 56,000 square feet area adjacent to the shoreline mooring area; 3) Installation of 102 steel piles 24 inch in diameter to construct 4 parallel finger trestles in shallower water outside the 32 – 34 feet deep main river channel where Sturgeon are mainly found from April to September 1.

Two 13 feet wide trestles with 7 rows of three pilings plus a barge fender spaced 30-35 feet apart are proposed to extend 250 feet into the river and to be used by straddle cranes to offload materials from barges. Two 13 feet wide trestles with 4 rows of three pilings plus a barge fender spaced 30 – 35 feet apart are proposed to extend 125 feet into the river for a slider assembly to load completed bridge sections onto barges. The dredging work is proposed to be commenced no earlier than late September and be completed within approximately two weeks. The pile driving work is proposed to commence no earlier than late September and be completed within approximately 7 weeks.

The proposed assembly facility is scheduled to be operational before the end of 2014. Double walled silt curtains are to be used to enclose the dredging and pile driving areas. Vibratory pile driving will be used. The 102 pilings will be removed at the end of the project in approximately 36 months. Dredge spoil dewatering is to be controlled within a dewatering basin for clean Class A/B material and a barge decant and treatment system for Class C material with discharge limits set for both dewatering methods plus the clean material (Class A/B) is to be re-used and contaminated material (Class C) sent to a solid waste facility.

Permits/regulatory approvals required include: a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) Protection of Waters Permit, 401 Water Quality Certification, Stormwater SPDES General Permit and Solid Waste Beneficial Use Determination for the re-use of clean dredge spoils.

Project documents can be found at: http://www.tappanzeeconstructors.com/pages/poc/

The public comment period was extended until (omitted word) September 18, 2014.

Contact: William J. Clarke, Regional Permit Administrator, NYS DEC – Region 4 Office, 1130 North Westcott Road, Schenectady, NY 12306, Phone: (518) 357-2069, E-mail: DEP.R4@dec.ny.gov.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2014

EPA Cuts Loan Sought for New NY Bridge Project

Tuesday the Environmental Protection Agency said no to most of a no- and low- interest $511 million loan from the Clean Water State Revolving Funds (CWSRF) – to be disbursed in two parcels – that the state eyed for its bridge project.

Aerial view fr Westchester/Credit: NYS Thruway Authority

Aerial view fr Westchester/Credit: NYS Thruway Authority

“EPA has concluded that five of the twelve Tappan Zee Bridge-related projects as proposed, totaling $29.1 million, are eligible  . . . and that seven of the twelve projects as proposed, totaling $481.8 million, are not eligible for CWSRF funding,” EPA Region 2 Clean Water Division Director Joan Leary Matthews wrote in a letter dated September 16.

These will be omitted from the Intended Use Plan (IUP). Meantime, EFC continues to fund other necessary projects.

Matthews’ 13-page letter to NYS Environmental Facilities Corporation President and CEO Matthew J. Driscoll, and DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens (who also chairs the facilities board) dated September 16 is here (www.epa.gov/region2/tappanzeeletter.pdf).

“Construction progress on the New NY Bridge project will not be affected in any way by the EPA Region II action,’ Thruway Executive Director Thomas J. Madison assured via a statement today. “The project remains on budget and on schedule and, as we’ve said all along, the intent is to pay for the new bridge using any potential increases above current toll rates at the bridge – not system-wide Thruway toll revenues.”

Signs informing drivers of toll plaza lanes/Courtesy of Steve Alpert at http://www.alpsroads.net.

Signs informing drivers of toll plaza lanes/Courtesy of Steve Alpert at http://www.alpsroads.net.

A source associated with the topic mused, “The payment of $3.142 billion to TZC is already committed, so there can be no savings there, and it is hard to see shaving much from the balance up to the total of $3.9 billion as much of that is needed to track TZC as it does its job.”

So the money will come from somewhere. Now might be a good time to launch the toll and financing task force. “When it gets underway, the committee will examine a range of funding sources, including tolls,” the source said.

At the Thruway Authority’s August 6 meeting, Chairman Howard P. Milstein noted some legislators “think there’s a surplus of $4 billion, and (that it) should be used for the bridge,” citing the $3.3 billion New York State is set to receive from a recent record settlement with France’s largest bank that will be added to its general fund.

Why not? PACB Budget Director Bob Megna had said he’ll “move as hard as he can to get the money moved to infrastructure like the Tappan Zee Bridge.”

eligible projects

Critics opposed to the governor’s plan were pleased.

“(Hudson) Riverkeeper said this loan wouldn’t pass federal review and sure enough, the EPA has struck almost all of it down,” President Paul Gallay said. “Good for them. Now, the state needs to take the half billion dollars it tried to loan to itself for the bridge and spend it properly – on the state’s crumbling wastewater infrastructure.”

Assemblyman Tom Abinanti (92nd AD), who represents the Tarrytown side of the bridge, applauded the EPA “for rendering a common-sense interpretation of the law” and chided the state for “hiding the true cost of the project in an environmental fund” dedicated elsewhere.

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 PACB agreed to its request for half of the $511 million.

EFC Director of Public Information Jon Sorensen responded, “While this loan is not integral to the overall bridge construction, the projects identified here will clearly provide significant benefits for the Hudson River Estuary. EPA Region II is simply wrong in its assessment. We will appeal this decision.”

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2014

Respecting the River and its Marine Life — Respect in General

Remember the oyster relocation program, and sturgeon tagging and monitoring last summer before the three-month dredging period? And the environmental review and precautions?

Last autumn: a blue sky and calm river/© Janie Rosman 2013

Last autumn: a blue sky and calm river/© Janie Rosman 2013

As with sturgeon monitoring and tagging, oyster harvesting was part of the state Department of Environmental Conservation Final Permit requirements, which contains $11.5 million for mitigation and restoration to protect the Hudson River and minimize the project’s environmental impacts.

Respect for the river and its marine life.

Riverkeeper, Inc. wants the same for a location 120 miles north at the Port of Coeymans, where construction for a staging area for the bridge project had begun. Although the state Department of Environmental Conservation chose not to conduct a review of the site, the watchdog group challenged that decision.

“The state appears to be pushing this through without an environmental review. They’ll be assembling pieces critical to building the bridge, and bringing them down river,” Hudson River Program Director Phillip Musegaas said.

Last December, the DEC’s “Negative Declaration” for the project determined it would cause no significant impacts, and needed no further environmental review.

“In this area, the Coeymans project is located across the river from sturgeons’ spawning habitat, and the area is state-protected,” Musegaas said. “Besides, the river is only 1,000 feet wide at that point. They’re proposing to build four piers more than 200 feet into the river so they can load barges in a very sensitive, ecological area.”

He said the National Marine Fisheries Service is also looking into the project’s effects on endangered sturgeon.

Riverkeeper filed comments to the DEC, and when it observed construction prior to permit approvals, the DEC ordered it to stop. “We’re happy the DEC shut it down because it shows a major lack of concern in a sensitive part of the river,” he said.

What it wants is a careful review. “We rightfully expect they (TZC) apply the same protections to the upriver site as they did at the Tappan Zee Bridge site,” Musegaas said.

The watchdog group is asking the public to urge the DEC to rescind its Negative Declaration and issue a comprehensive environmental impact and permit review process that meaningfully incorporates public participation by the recently extended comment deadline period of September 18, 2014.

Merriam-Webster defines respect as “a feeling or understanding that someone or something is important, serious, etc., and should be treated in an appropriate way.” Respect for the river, the environment, nature — and each other.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2014

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