WEST NYACK, N.Y. – State and transportation officials should consider the impact of building a new Tappan Zee Bridge on the villages and citizens who have chosen to live beside it, Rockland County residents and elected officials said during a public hearing Tuesday afternoon.
“This must be a project that respects us who have chosen to raise our families and invest our life savings in the spot where this bridge is anchored,” Nyack Mayor Jen Laird-White said.
The public hearing was the first of two meetings on the draft environmental impact statement for the proposed Tappan Zee Bridge. Hundreds of area residents came to the Palisades Center Tuesday to discuss the bridge.
Plans for the new bridge call for a twin-span structure that would sit about 300 feet north of the existing bridge. The project would also include improving the South Broadway Bridge in Rockland County. Six homes in South Nyack would need to be removed. No homes in Westchester County would be affected.
Laird-White encouraged state officials to “take a pause” during the fast-tracked process so that state officials can hear concerns of residents living closest to the bridge.
South Nyack resident Victoria Ficco-Panzer also told officials that she fears “that the negative impacts of new construction on the present residents is not being given enough consideration.”
Ficco-Panzer lives in Salisbury Point near the bridge and told officials that residents living near the bridge would have to deal with increased traffic, noise and dust from construction. Ficco-Panzer noted that property values were already decreasing because people do not want to buy a home so close to the bridge.
Residents said they wanted the state to consider the economical and aesthetic impacts on South Nyack during and after the construction of a new bridge. South Nyack Mayor Tish DuBow said the proposed plans are “1952 all over again,” referring to the large chunk of the village that was demolished when the existing bridge was built.
“This is a sacrifice,” DuBow said. “And South Nyack doesn't get much in return.”
Orangetown Supervisor Andy Stewart and others questioned the increase of tolls to cross the bridge, noting that the state has not yet made the increase clear although it has stated tolls would be used to help pay for the bridge.
The issue of mass-transit was another concern for officials and residents who note that the scaled-back project does not improve congestion issues. Rockland County Executive Scott Vanderhoef said mass-transit “cannot be an afterthought.”