Imaginary Conversation: if the Bridge could Talk

Psst. I’m talking to you. Stop looking at me from over there because I’m right here. Yes, I realize the new one is more interesting. Come here NOW!

That’s more like it. This angle puts me in a good light, you know, when the sun is setting, and the sky is rosy-colored. We need to have a serious talk, you and I.

So now you’re over here and wondering what I want to say. Listen up; I still have a few tricks up my sleeve that the new one will never be able to do: make those thumpity-thump noises when wheels drive over me, cause people to curse when they get stuck on me and glisten during sunrises. Let’s see if the new one can do that.

You say I’ll be around for a couple more months? Good to know. Wait, then what?

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2017

Longer wait: first span set to open in Fall 2017

Rendering of new Tappan Zee Bridge is courtesy of New York State Thruway Authority

What happened to late 2016, then early 2017 and then spring/summer 2017?

This is what I saw two days ago, when I stood at the doorway and looked out the window on the other side of the room. The view was probably 100 times better right in front of window; however, I stayed where I was because the woman who lives in that room wasn’t there.

I asked her later if I could view the bridge from her window, and she smiled. “What are they going to do about all that traffic?” she asked. I didn’t ask again.

Tarrytown Hall Care Center is where Tarrytown Hospital once stood, Assistant Administrator Amanda MacConnell LMSW told me during a tour of the facility.

Third floor rooms and its large day room offer clear views of the bridge project.

A few people there ask when will it be finished and how will it help the traffic in Westchester and Rockland. Word has it that the span will open in the fall. What happened to Governor Cuomo’s talk about additional unknowns: the built-in contract incentives for finishing the project before spring 2018 or penalties for completing it later?

Cuomo’s comment was during an October 2014 press conference: when asked about the task force he proposed in 2012 to address this, he cited 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.

Higher than they are now seems about right.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2017

Road Trip includes Glimpses of NNYB Progress

What’s a trip north without checking out the replacement for the bridge I shall miss? Yes, I admit it. Since it was Sunday, and there was no traffic, I had a chance to see foundations for the new maintenance facility at the Westchester landing. Did I mention there was no traffic?

I also got another look at the scaffolding climbed by one adventurous project official. Remember, the stairs begin above the crossover bridge and are outside one of the 419-foot tall main span towers. Click the photo enlarge it, and then click the magnifier for an up-close view of what it’s like to climb up the tower.

Cloudy skies on the way were foreboding and very different from a similar trip last April; they made a pretty picture, almost like a painting on canvas. While the day was overcast, last weekend’s skies were clear and beautiful when Flying Films NY traveled to the project site for these aerial views.

Stay safe this Memorial Day and remember to show gratitude and be thankful.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2017

Exit to Exit: a Whole Lotta Traffic In-between

You can see traffic slogging along westbound per EarthCam® camera at Westch. landing

Memorial Day Weekend. The. Westbound. Span. Should. Have. Been. Opened.

Woulda, shoulda, coulda says nothing about the fact that it hasn’t and isn’t.

During a late afternoon drove to Rockland for copies of this week’s Rockland County Times, which has my story about a woman who advocates for senior housing and safety at home, I got stuck in traffic.

I’m home waiting for a FedEx delivery that requires a signature so I’ll tell you about yesterday’s driving experience.

Silly me. It’s a holiday weekend, and the vehicular madness was well underway by the time I merged onto crowded, no, packed, 287 from the Sprain. Inching from Exit 2 to Exit 1 was a challenge; once on the Thruway, it took about 20 minutes to drive from Exit 9 (Tarrytown) to Exit 10 (South Nyack).

I miss Ramp E, the South Broadway (Route 9) entrance ramp to the bridge in Tarrytown. I really miss it when I’m in that area and have to travel west as its absence continues to cause traffic nightmares.

In its place the state is building a new facility, which drivers and I saw from the other side:

It’s ironic that the new bridge will change nothing about congestion choking 287 on its own and as arteries, like Westchester Avenue and the Sprain, merge onto it. This new bridge will offer cars and trucks — they NEED to be in their own lane! — an easy, breezy 3.1 miles of travel until bridge meets land, and the madness continues in Rockland.

What gives? The westbound span was set to open last December 2016, then in early 2017. Somewhere, sometime, project officials starting saying the bridge, shared use path (including in South Nyack), maintenance facility and new state police barracks will open in 2018.

When the super crane arrived at the project site in October 2014, Governor Cuomo held a press conference and was asked about potential tolls.

“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, citing the variables. 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.

Spring 2018 is 12 months from now, which is nearly summer if you consider it’s Memorial Day Weekend and an unofficial start of summer.

So crews need to finish the whole shebang before June 21, 2018, the real start of summer. Will the bridge builder be penalized for finishing the project one day later? Stay tuned.

It’s too bad New York State made this into a bridge project instead of sticking to a corridor project. The 287 construction was finished nine months ahead of schedule, and I’m sure (though I don’t remember) traffic “flowing smoothly” four or five years ago.

Several people working on the project told me it would be impossible to widen 287. What was the point of building a bridge between two congested highways without considering the motorists who use them?

I covered the Mass Transit Task Force meetings, where this exchange took place during the final get-together:

“Who will take the initiative to make sure the recommendations will move forward?” State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (88th District) asked. State DOT Commissioner Joan McDonald replied, “Our charge was to make recommendations. It’s up to the governor and the Thruway Authority to see what are the next steps.”

The governor said on January 29, 2013 — 11 days after the bridge builder received the A-OK to begin — that completion of 287’s reconstruction and the bridge project represent how his administration cut through government dysfunction. It’s all well and good to have plans; however, as my mom’s cousin Helen used to say, “You have to look down the road a piece.”

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2017

South Nyack and Thruway Authority agree to collaborate on residents’ behalf

The quaint village resolved to hold the Thruway Authority to its word about working together to minimize the new TZ Bridge project’s impact on residents.

At the onset of their Tuesday village board meeting, trustees convened in executive session with special counsel Dennis E.A. Lynch to discuss the agency’s EDPL non-compliance and lack of efforts to demonstrate compliance. During a brief meeting Friday morning (May 12), trustees unanimously adopted a resolution to resolve issues discussed during that session.

The Rockland County Times reported on March 9, 2017, that neighborhood group Preserve South Nyack (PSN) identified multiple deficiencies in the agency’s EDPL proceedings.

In a resolution dated March 22, 2017, trustees said the Thruway Authority “must demonstrate full compliance with all notice and other provisions of the EDPL . . . “noting the village’s rights under appropriate EDPL provisions. It also said the village notified the agency of its concerns “and needs a more definitive, concrete and direct response and prompt resolution of those concerns . . . “

State representatives met with Christian and village officials on May 4 to discuss concerns and to suggest appropriate ways of moving forward, addressing all impacts and definitively satisfying village concerns and impacts expressed that were not previously discusses or resolved.

In a letter to Christian dated May 8, 2017, Thruway Authority Acting Executive Director Bill Finch confirmed the May 4 meeting and indicated a desire “to help preserve the character of your village and to mitigate the impacts associated with the construction of the new NY Bridge Project.”

Citing the state’s willingness to relocate the path’s terminus in 2015 as “perhaps the most indicative of our enduring commitment to the Village,” Finch said the Thruway Authority reaffirm(s) its commitment to support South Nyack’s goal of achieving fiscal sustainability helping it apply for non-bridge-related grants.

He continued, “In addition to the Community Benefits Program (CBP) study of Interchange 10 mentioned above, the Authority stands ready to work with the Village in its acquisition and redevelopment of surplus property at Interchange 10 once any future reconfiguration of the Interchange is complete.”

If South Nyack determines the agency does not keep its word re the mitigations and its “acquisition and reedevelopment of surplus property at Interchange 10 once any future reconfiguration of the Interchange is complete,” then village officials will consider appropriate action.

My article originally appeared in the Rockland County Times May 18, 2017.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2017

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