Archive for October, 2013|Monthly archive page

No Tricks, and a Treat: TIFIA Loan Approved

Courtesy of the New NY Bridge

Courtesy of the New NY Bridge

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the federal government said “YES” to up to a $1.6 billion low interest loan for the bridge replacement project.

This amount is the largest in TIFIA (Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act) loan request history — and secures key financing for the project. More than one year ago, the New York State Thruway Authority requested a $1.5 billion loan; days earlier, Standard & Poor’s downgraded the agency’s long-term bond rating from A+ to A due to concern about potential toll increases.

Its application approved, the state can move forward with the $3.9 billion project.

Project cost shares eligible for TIFIA coverage were previously limited to 33 percent, according to Federal Highway Administration spokeswoman Nancy Singer. If the bridge replacement project is being advanced through the review process based on that percentage, then 33 percent of $3.9 billion is $1.287 billion.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2013

Project Updates; Safety Measures Enforced

The Hudson River and the Rockland County shoreline are dotted with construction equipment, with more to come.

The Hudson River and the Rockland County shoreline are dotted with construction equipment, with more to come.

Dredging ends November 1, 2013, and will resume again from August 1, to November 1, 2014. Permanent pile driving will be limited from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays; occasionally, from 12 noon to 7 p.m. on Saturdays.

Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC (TZC) crews recently began layering sand and stones within the dredge channel to protect the river bottom, and to ensure sediment is not kicked up by passing vessels.

Activity in the river means BE EXTRA CAREFUL. The most recent U.S. Coast Guard Local Notice to Mariners, dated October 24, is posted under Boater Safety Information on the New NY Bridge website.

When transiting the area mariners should stay clear of these locations by a minimum of 1000 feet. Mariners are advised to transit the main channel, reduce wake and use extreme caution while transiting the area in the vicinity of the Tappan Zee Bridge paying particular attention to vessel movement and future notices.

The Regulated Navigation Area (RNA) — established September 15 by the U.S. Coast Guard for the navigable Hudson River waters surrounding the Tappan Zee Bridge — will be enforced until December 31, 2018. Comments and related material pertaining to the RNA will be accepted and reviewed by the Coast Guard through December 31, 2018.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2013

Commuter, and Leisure Travel, Issues Remain Unresolved

Courtesy of New NY Bridge Outreach Team

Courtesy of New NY Bridge Outreach Team

Remember the June transit task force meeting?

Proposed suggestions drew surprise, curiosity and some concern during the three-hour session at Dominican College. “Where it (mass transit) connects is less important than how it connects,” Trent Lethco, AICP, principal at ARUP engineering, told the group.

Lethco had suggested two routes in Rockland County and three in Westchester County, based upon earlier data and travel patterns that included expanding the TappanZEExpress service to White Plains Train Station via I-287’s Exit 5 — bypassing Tarrytown Train Station, and alleviating added traffic on Broadway.

Last month’s meeting had its own concerns, as did yesterday’s, which evoked strong reactions from several attendees.

Lethco showed charts about travel patterns and delays that agreed with task force members’ experiences on I-287, including that morning. His team — which drove in the corridor Tuesdays through Thursdays last month for only 12 days — was forced to slow down considerably, he said, from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., eastbound between Exits 9 and 5.

And ARUP finally got it.

“I’m dismayed because there’s no room to get transit priority (no space),” Lethco said. “We realized what people were saying about a problem at the interchange.”

Exit 5′s two-lane ramp feeds into often-crowded Route 119; I blogged about it three months ago. “This raises a question about Tarrytown to White Plains,” he said. “There is no place to chip away more space.”

Tarrytown Mayor Drew Fixell asked for a breakdown of traffic congestion; Lethco said he would expand the charts to include time frames.

Is 12 days enough time to observe traffic patterns, and, based upon those observations, make crucial decisions that will affect local, regional, and most likely state, transportation?

Proposals for two bus routes in Rockland County, and three in Westchester County, would expand the TappanZEExpress service to White Plains Train Station.

Proposals for two bus routes in Rockland County, and three in Westchester County, would expand the TappanZEExpress service to White Plains Train Station.

Note: The July meeting was postponed; in August, ARUP planner Anthony Durante dissected those routes into categories (needs) and concepts “packaged into groups that made sense” for short, medium and long-term plans, defined as:

  • Short-term is January 2014 through completion of the new bridge
  • Mid-term is 15 years after completion of the new bridge (2018 to 2033)
  • Long-term is more than 15 years after completion (2033 and beyond)

Business Council of Westchester president and CEO Marsha Gordon objected to bus routes ending at White Plains Train Station, omitting a good stretch of the I-287 corridor and the Platinum Mile. Lack of HOV/HOT lanes in short-term plans got the attention of Tri-State Transportation Campaign Executive Director Veronica Vanterpool.

They’d have to wait until 2033, as would west-of-Hudson rail improvements. Harriet Cornell, Chairwoman, Rockland County Legislature, felt postponing those improvements insulted the county, and said the Rockland-Manhattan market needs a Tarrytown connector in short-term plans.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority director of special project development and planning William Wheeler raised the important point that buses are recycled. “If a bus going one way doesn’t work (is slowed in traffic), it all (plan) doesn’t work,” he said. Near the end of the meeting, he reiterated they (ARUP) hadn’t thought through bus recycling, and the reality of the situation.

Commuters who buy roundtrip tickets from White Plains Train Station return to that station at the end of the day. Westbound traffic begins early, especially during holidays, and yesterday — Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow had respective Halloween events.

It remains to be seen if Tarrytown will be reconsidered as the Rockland-Manhattan commuter connector for Metro North.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2013

A Work in Progress, Now and for the Future

Courtesy of New NY Bridge Outreach Team

Courtesy of New NY Bridge Outreach Team

A deliciously colorful, candy version of the New NY Bridge — right down to the chamfered towers — awaits finishing touches for this weekend’s Halloween activities. Members of the New NY Bridge Outreach team will be in Sleepy Hollow on Friday night, and in Nyack on Saturday night, with information about the project and this creative replica.

While the new bridge won’t have candy button lanes or Skittles® cofferdam foundations, it will be designed and built to last one century without major structural maintenance.

How to get from here to there, and back, is still unresolved. The transit task force is close to deciding upon plans for rail, or recommending a system that doesn’t preclude rail in the future, “focusing our energies on bus rapid transit,” state Department of Transportation commissioner Joan McDonald said.

It meets tomorrow, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at White Plains Public Library; the public is invited to attend, and will have an opportunity to address the group prior to the session’s conclusion.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2013

E-ZPass® Tag – Good to Go!

Bought my E-ZPass® tag today (later than planned), and will use it this weekend. It’s smaller and lighter in weight than an earlier version, and attaches behind the rear view mirror via tiny VELCRO® strips.

E-ZPass tag and brochure

Available at the Community Outreach Centers — 303 S. Broadway, Tarrytown, and 142 Main St., Nyack — the pre-packaged E-ZPass® tags are $25 each, and active upon purchase. The first $15 is immediately available; the remaining $10 would be, after the tag is registered online or by phone.

It’s a five percent savings on Thruway tolls, and toll discounts in 15 states:

Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, and West Virginia.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2013

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