TARRYTOWN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The entrance ramp to the northbound Tappan Zee Bridge from Route 9 has closed, and will remain so for four years to come, to facilitate construction on the new bridge.
As CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reported, the closure of the busy on-ramp has brought a fresh round of concern for residents and motorists.
The New York State Thruway Authority says the ramp in Tarrytown will be closed until 2018. Drivers will be diverted onto Route 119. Electronic signs will alert them to any problems.
Officials with the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project said they feel confident it won’t produce the kind of traffic jams that happened during three nights in December when the ramp was closed.
Officials say in that case a snowstorm, a truck fire and other problems contributed to the miles-long traffic backup.
Still, some residents are worried specifically because of those December traffic jams.
Tarrytown resident Larry Corio back then, it took “an hour sometimes just to get through the village.”
But Tappan Zee Bridge special adviser Brian Conybeare said precautions had been taken to avoid the situation that erupted in December.
Officials said drivers headed northbound or westbound on the Thruway from Route 9 South will be redirected to bear right immediately after the closed ramp onto what is referred to as the “jughandle” for Route 119. Conybeare said lights have been adjusted so traffic flows better.
“The simple reroute — people are being asked to go less than a quarter mile away to the nearby Interchange 9 entrance ramp on Route 119,” Conybeare said.
Officials said drivers headed northbound or westbound on the Thruway from Route 9 South will be redirected to bear right immediately after the closed ramp onto what is referred to as the “jughandle” for Route 119.
Drivers will then head east on Route 119 before turning right onto the I-87 northbound/I-287 westbound entrance ramp.
There also has been an extensive public awareness effort. In addition to electronic signs, the Thruway Authority blasted out 3,000 e-mails and sent out 11,000 post cards to local commuters, warning them about the ramp closure.
The bridge project is a tender topic in the river towns, where construction noise already has prompted complaints — and extensive, expensive efforts to build the $4 billion bridge as quietly as possible.
Now with the traffic worries, Larry Corio said he is trying to be realistic.
“It’s a residential neighborhood. You’ve got small businesses here – it’s going to impact them,” Curio said. “But I don’t know what else that can be done.”
The state said any short-term pain will be worth the long-term gain.
The ramp will be used as a construction staging area for the new $3.9 billion span. It will be used to store equipment and provide access for construction workers.
Meanwhile, the cost to cross the new bridge will be higher than the current cash toll of $5, but the Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration will not say by how much. The administration also will not say when the new toll will be announced.
For more information,visit newnybridge.com.
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