Monday, April 14, 2008

Tappan Zee: DOT Behaving Badly

When the NY State DOT announced that they would split the alternatives study of the Tappan Zee Bridge project into a "road phase" and a "transit phase," my bullshit detector was activated. But it was tempered by a blog post from Tri-State Transportation Campaign intern Paul Murphy.

Now I think that Murphy was being too kind when he said that the decision was "predicated on reasons which seem sound" and there really was cause for alarm. I've been convinced by a series of articles and web pages put out by the Hudson Riverkeeper. Also, the fact that all of the options under consideration somehow include expanding the bridge's capacity from seven lanes to ten should worry anybody.

One issue of concern is that some transit activists, excited about the possibility of BRT on a replacement bridge, may be willing to turn a blind eye to the State DOT's road-widening agenda and accept a bridge that encourages more car trips than transit trips and is thus a net loss for transit - and thus for clean air, fighting global warming, economic efficiency and walkable communities.

There was an editorial in the Riverdale Press that summarized the issues fairly well: pay $14.5 billion for more sprawl, or pay $2 billion for the current level of sprawl. But if it's possible to maintain the bridge for $2 billion, then it should also be possible to retrofit it for BRT for not much more. After all, BRT is cheap, isn't it?

Here's something you can do today: sign Riverkeeper's petition to Governor Paterson asking him to ensure full public participation in the bridge process.

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