Reporting Paul Murnane
TARRYTOWN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The White House says New York desperately needs a new bridge. President Barack Obama issued an executive order Tuesday clearing the way for a long-awaited Tappan Zee Bridge replacement.
It’s a big development.
Obama put the Tappan Zee at the top of the fast-track list for a reason. Ask anyone.
“It’s about time, about time!” Scarsdale resident Antonette Napolitano told CBS 2’s Lou Young.
Kevin Ham of Tarrytown told Young he avoids the bridge “as much as possible. The traffic is terrible.”
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Built in 1955, the three-mile span over the Hudson River carries more traffic than the Lincoln and Holland tunnels combined, upwards of 170,000 vehicles a day.
Tuesday’s action means construction on a new bridge could start within the year.
“They’re cutting some of the red tape to move this along quicker, but that still brings us to the financial stage,” Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino said.
There are no drawings of what the new bridge might look like but Young was told it will have a much higher profile than the one that is there now. And depending on how extravagant they want to get the estimated price tag could be as little as $9 billion or perhaps twice that.
That’s a far cry from the $60 million spent to build it nearly six decades ago — an on-the-cheap approach that involved a lightweight metal frame resting on massive concrete caissons towed in by barge and filled with air to float the bridge on the river bottom rather than anchor it to bedrock.
The aging design keeps engineers up at night.
“Everyone knows the deck kind of falls apart at times and has to be replaced. Well, you can’t replace it with a thicker deck because it has to be light and if you put in a thicker deck it would basically collapse,” Westchester County Planning Commissioner Ed Burroughs said.
Governor Andrew Cuomo and top state legislators are on board, but everyone agrees some of the money is going to have to come from the feds.
“If there ever was a shovel-ready project that should’ve had stimulus money it’s the Tappan Zee Bridge,” Astorino said.
“I think if they really want to they can find the money,” added Briarcliff resident Nazmie Bruncaj.
What kind of bridge do you think should replace the existing Tappan Zee Bridge? Sound off in the comments section below!