New York State has reached an agreement with two Hudson Valley environmental groups on a Department of Environmental Conservation permit needed for constructing the replacement Tappan Zee Bridge. The agreement also gives the groups a seat at the table in monitoring the construction.
The environmental permit is one of the last certifications the state needs to move forward with construction, and those involved with the project say it’s critical. Brian Conybeare is special advisor to Governor Andrew Cuomo for the New NY Bridge Project.
Two environmental groups – Riverkeeper and Scenic Hudson - had written to the state DEC during a recent comment period on a revised draft environmental permit, saying the terms of the permit were too vague, and not strong enough to minimize construction impacts on the Hudson River. They also took issue with a previously-proposed $8 million in mitigation funding they said was too little. Now, both groups say they are pleased with the overall agreement. Here’s Hudson River Program Director and attorney for Ossining-based Riverkeeper Phillip Musegaas:
He notes that some of the agreed-upon restoration projects in the river include restoring oyster reefs, fish-spawning habitats, and tidal wetlands. The DEC permit includes $11.5 million of mitigation and restoration funding to protect the Hudson River and minimize environmental impacts from construction. $1.5 million of this is for waterfront-related improvements, such as restoring natural shorelines or acquiring land for parks in the communities affected by bridge construction. Again, here’s Riverkeeper’s Musegaas.
Steve Rosenberg is senior vice president of Poughkeepsie-based Scenic Hudson.
As part of the agreement, the state will hold regular meetings and site visits with Riverkeeper and Scenic Hudson during mitigation planning and construction of the replacement bridge that will connect Westchester and Rockland Counties. Here’s the Bridge Project’s Conybeare:
He says the items contained in the agreement will not add to the cost of the new bridge.
And he says the project is on schedule.
Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office says the only approvals that remain are from the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.