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Tappan Zee Bridge Being Mulled as Pedestrian Bridge

Tue March 27, 2012 - Northeast Edition
Michael Gormley - ASSOCIATED PRESS

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) The state is considering turning the Tappan Zee Bridge into a greenway instead of demolishing it when a new span is built to cross the Hudson River, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

A review is under way to see if the idea is feasible for the 3-mi. bridge in the New York City suburbs. The Cuomo administration said it will cost $150 million to demolish the 57-year-old Tappan Zee, so officials are trying to “reimagine” it as a world-class recreation site.

A railroad bridge 45 mi. upriver at Poughkeepsie has been turned into Walkway Over the Hudson and is a major attraction for that area.

“The question of the ’old bridge’ is exciting,” Cuomo said. “It’s an exciting opportunity that we are going to be exploring.”

Construction on the new Tappan Zee could begin this year. President Barack Obama has made it eligible for fast-tracked federal approvals. The anticipated cost is $5.2 billion.

The idea of turning the old bridge into parkland was floated last year by Paul Feiner, supervisor of the town of Greenburgh, and other politicians and environmentalists in the Lower Hudson Valley. They applauded the governor on Feb. 22.

“We can make the bridge and area a world-class destination point,” Feiner said. “I’m very excited.”

Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, who represents the district on the east end of the bridge, said, “We believe an unbiased study will show that it will be less expensive to leave the bridge up than to take it down, and at the same time, you’ll be providing a marvelous recreational opportunity with beautiful views of the river.”

“Everyone’s so focused on economic development, and this would become an attraction and stimulate development,” he said.

David McKay Wilson, executive director of the Bike Walk Alliance of Westchester and Putnam Counties, said, “There’s a huge public investment in this bridge. We’ve spent $500 million over the past 10 years to keep it up, and we believe that once we’re finished with cars and trucks driving over it, there will be a lot of life left in it.”

Besides the walkway at Poughkeepsie, backers of a Tappan Zee Park have cited the success of the High Line in Manhattan, an elevated freight line turned into parkland.

Both those projects are much smaller than the Tappan Zee. In addition, plans for the new bridge call for using the same landfalls as the current bridge.

Some politicians in Westchester and Rockland counties, which are linked by the bridge, have faulted the plans because they don’t provide for mass transit to immediately be part of the bridge.

Abinanti said approving a Tappan Zee park would be a way for Cuomo to make the new bridge “more community friendly.”

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