TARRYTOWN, N.Y. – A proposal to use the existing Tappan Zee Bridge as a park when the new bridge opens in 2017 is “not prudent,” according to a final environmental impact study released Wednesday by the state.
Supporters of the park say they're not giving up hope.
“I am still hoping that the governor continues realizing all the benefits that turning the bridge into a park would generate and I will keep supporting that proposal all the way,” White Plains Councilwoman Milagros Lecuona said in an email.
Lecuona is part of a group of officials and residents who banded together to promote the idea of turning the existing bridge into a park, similar to the High Line in New York City. The group said the park would save demolition costs, keep a historic landmark and bring in tourism to Westchester and Rockland counties. Hope for the project increased when Gov. Andrew Cuomo described the proposal as “an exciting option.”
The new bridge will include a shared-use path for bicyclists and pedestrians, according to the study released Wednesday. State officials said the planned path would be 12-feet wide and include four scenic outlooks.
Keeping the old bridge, state officials said, would not be cost-effective. There would also be issues with getting people on the old bridge and navigation problems, the state said.
Lecuona said keeping the existing bridge would allow state officials to use the planned shared path as a dedicated bus lane from day one.
Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner supported the Tappan Bridge Park and said Wednesday's news was disappointing.
“This is a missed opportunity to do something spectacular,” he said in an email. “A Tappan Bridge Park would have helped local businesses in Tarrytown, Irvington and Greenburgh, in addition to Rockland localities, and would have become a world class destination point.”
Feiner added that a bridge park would add to residents' quality of life and property values.
“I hope the state will reconsider,” Feiner said. “There is still time between now and the time when the bridge could be demolished. And, who knows? There's a possibility that there will be cost overruns on the project (look at 287 construction overruns), the state will run out of money to demolish the bridge and will later decide to preserve the bridge!”