As the New York State Thruway presses on with plans to replace the Tappan Zee bridge, environmentalists are asking the state continue to seek out alternatives. Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports.
Under current plans, a new 8-lane bridge would replace the current Tappan Zee at a cost of 5-point-4 billion dollars. The environmental group Riverkeeper wants the state to consider whether or not a tunnel might be a better alternative.
State officials counter that a tunnel could cost up to 50 Billion dollars and they say it would be a nightmare for commuters used to easy access to the existing bridge. Riverkeeper Boat Captain John Lipscomb disputes that figure.
An official with the Governor's office would not go on tape, but provided statistical data and other information by email: it says two tunnel options were considered: A tube across the river bottom, and a tunnel bored beneath the riverbed. The conclusion: Neither is feasible.
Capt. Lipscomb says village officials in Tarrytown and Nyack are very interested because a tunnel could mean more in the way of badly-needed revenues by returning land that had been dedicated to the bridge back to the two communities.
State officials argue that a tunnel would require the acquisition of additional land and force commuters to drive to distant points to access it, which would severely disrupt regional traffic.
Riverkeeper argues a tunnel would last longer and cost less to maintain over many years. The group believes the tunnel would have less of an environmental impact than a bridge - repeated calls to the Mayors of Tarrytown and Nyack were not returned. A New York State thruway spokesman declined an offer to comment.