TARRYTOWN, N.Y. – Proponents of turning the existing Tappan Zee Bridge into a park say their idea should be included in studies of the new bridge, so the feasibility of such a project can be decided.
“We are asking the state to include the preservation of the bridge into their environmental impact studies,” White Plains Common Council Member Milagros Lecuona said. “So that we know exactly where we are with the infrastructure and if this idea can be possible.”
Several residents and public officials, including Lecuona, Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner and State Assemblyperson Tom Abinanti first proposed the bridge park idea in October. The idea stems from the High Line park in New York City and the Walkway Over the Hudson Park in Poughkeepsie.
Proponents say the park could make the Tappan Zee Bridge a destination for tourism and bring in much-needed economic growth. They also say turning the old bridge into a park will save millions and protect the Hudson River environmentally.
Feiner said he thinks spending so much money on maintenance and then demolishing the bridge is a big waste of money. “Wouldn't it be better if we save it so people could enjoy it?” he asked.
Supporters have organized into a group to figure out how to make the park a reality. In addition to starting a website, officials have sent letters to other politicians to try to get the park idea included in the bridge study. Abinanti said the group just wants to make sure that transportation officials examine every possibility.
“Let's take a look at the facts,” Abinanti said.
Lecuona acknowledged several challenges the group would have to overcome to get the park in place, such as funding, parking, traffic and the visual impact of having three bridges standing 300 feet apart. She said many of these issues would be considered if the park idea was included in the bridge study.
“What we're saying is 'go ahead and keep doing what you're doing, but at the same time, look at all of these other things,” Abinanti said, referring to the park and a mass-transit system. “There's nothing that says you can't start working on this now so that you can make it a reality shortly after opening the bridge.”