TBT: Super Crane Arrives; Cuomo on Bridge Tolls

Massive crane has a 328-foot boom/© Janie Rosman 2014

Massive crane has a 328-foot boom/© Janie Rosman 2014

Nothing could upstage the massive I Lift NY crane that traveled north from lower Manhattan to the project site earlier this week save for one word: tolls.

Governor Andrew Cuomo addressed that straight on when he joined community leaders, reporters and project officials in Piermont Monday to welcome the massive crane. “We need to get a little more specific information before we can figure out what the tolls could be,” he said.

Asked about the task force he proposed in 2012 to address this, Cuomo cited the variables.

“We don’t know how much we will we get from the federal government, how much we will get from the state; there are state loans and grants we can access,” he said. Additional unknowns are the built-in contract incentives for Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC (TZC) to finish the project before spring 2018 or penalties for completing it later.

“Once you have those numbers, then you can come up with a plan about how to do it, what commuters should pay, on-hour, off-hour, etc.,” he said.

Governor Andrew Cuomo talks about the bridge, Rep. Nita Lowey, Special Project Advisor Brian ConybeareGovernor Andrew Cuomo talks about the bridge, Rep. Nita Lowey, Special Project Advisor Brian Conybeare/© Janie Rosman 2014

Governor Andrew Cuomo talks about the bridge, Rep. Nita Lowey, Special Project Advisor Brian ConybeareGovernor Andrew Cuomo talks about the bridge, Rep. Nita Lowey, Special Project Advisor Brian Conybeare/© Janie Rosman 2014

What we do know is the I Lift NY crane will save the state money. “I’ve never had a deep emotional connection to a crane before, but I want you to know that I truly am in love with this crane,” Cuomo smiled. “They call it the I Lift NY crane, I call it the I Love NYcrane.” He later told reporters, “I love the crane that saved us $1 billion.”The governor assured the task force will be formed “I think within the next year, certainly,” and commuters “should have to pay as little as possible.” Rumors have been that tolls could run as high as $14 per vehicle, but state officials have downplayed that possibility.

After its six-plus-week trek from Oakland, CA, and recent docking at Jersey City, it arrived ready to set sections of pre-fabricated steel, 350 feet long each, from about 100 miles north at Port of Coeymans.

Barging the metal downriver and lifting it into place reduces the amount of necessary dredging by about 50 percent, special project advisor Brian Conybeare noted, as does the shallow-drafted barge the crane rests upon.

Cuomo noted that TZC is “building a bridge in one of the most environmentally-sensitive areas on the globe,” citing environmental protections and precautions in place to protect the Hudson River and its marine life. These include oyster relocation, bubble curtains protecting endangered Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon, and acoustic receivers near the construction zone to locate these species, tagged by other researchers.

Per a September 19 email from NYS DEC representative Peter Constantakes, agency staff visited the Port of Coeymans after being alerted of possible violations related to work being performed by TZC, and directed the company to cease operations immediately.

TZC president Darrell Waters gives project status update

TZC president Darrell Waters gives project status update

In a statement dated October 8, Constantakes wrote, “DEC completed an investigation of this incident and has entered into an Order on Consent with Tappan Zee Constructors that addresses violations of the Environmental Conservation law. The violations pertain to the company beginning construction at the site prior to DEC issuing the necessary permits.

The Consent Order requires Tappan Zee Constuctors to pay a $10,000 civil penalty and provide at least $55,000 for an Environmental Benefit Project to be determined by DEC.”

At 24 percent completed, and with 65 percent of the piling is in, the project is now “going vertical,” TZC president Darrell Waters said, noting 31 cranes are working in-river. “By end of year, you will start to see main span pylons coming out of the foundations.”

Take advantage of the viewing area at Pierson Park in Tarrytown, outfitted with high-powered monoculars and three informational panels.

Fielding questions/© Janie Rosman 2014

Fielding questions/© Janie Rosman 2014

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.

Some of this money would be deposited into a new infrastructure bank created by the state, the governor said.

To date, the project awarded more than $100 million to DBE firms and contracted with 137 companies from Westchester County, 64 from Rockland County. “Almost 550 craftsmen (are) on the project site,” Waters said. “(This) will peak at about 650 (people) working here next year.”

Citing the Empire State’s fortitude, Cuomo stated, “For people who have lost faith in New York, for people who think we can’t get things done, New Yorkers haven’t lost their creativity, they haven’t lost their energy, they haven’t lost their combativeness, their competiveness, and that’s what this project is all about.”

My article originally appeared in the Rockland County Times October 9, 2014.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2016

2 comments so far

  1. Steve Adams on

    Does anyone know why the GWB costs, I think, $15 for a passenger car, while the bridges north of the Tappan Zee cost only $1.50? It’s a bit galling to think that the NY/NJ governors can use the Port Authority as a sinecure for their friends, with salaries north of $150K, and just jack up the toll on the GWB, for instance, to pay for it. Anyway, it’s a mystery to me how tolls on Hudson River bridges are determined.


    • nykeypad on

      Hi Steve, thanks for reading and for your comment. I don’t know how tolls are calculated; however, fares on New York State Thruway system will remain the same ($5 cash for the TZB) through 2020, per Governor Cuomo.


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