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Thread: Tappan Zee Bridge Alteration or Replacement

  1. #61
    Forum Veteran
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    New York City


    NY Times
    February 25, 2007
    Our Towns

    A Creaky Bridge, Too Far From the Days of a Power Broker’s Rule

    Talk of rebuilding the overloaded Tappan Zee Bridge, north of New York City, has gone on for years.

    NYACK, N.Y.

    Suddenly, in another reminder that the pendulum of public favor never stops swinging, we’re in the middle of a Robert Moses boomlet, with museum events, lectures and scholarship taking a new look at the past century’s megabuilder.

    A visionary who masterfully created much of the world we know in New York, or a Godzilla stomping on the poor and dismissing mass transit to build his roads, bridges and parks? Twenty-six years after Moses’ death, it’s as relevant a debate as it was in 1974 when Robert Caro published his acclaimed and fiercely critical book on Moses, “The Power Broker.”

    You can argue Moses round or flat. But you can’t look at perhaps the region’s most complicated, vexing and important public works project, the reconstruction and re-imagining of the Tappan Zee Bridge, and ponder the imperial world of Moses without two thoughts. First, that era seems as ancient as Byzantium. Second, was its passing an entirely good thing?

    There’s not much monumental about the Tappan Zee (which Moses did not build). Constructed on the cheap between Rockland and Westchester Counties and opened in 1955, it’s a mess: overloaded, poorly engineered, in chronic need of extensive maintenance and potentially dangerous. It’s well known for commuting surprises like an epidemic of “punch-throughs” — holes in the roadway where a chunk gives way and you can see the river below.

    The necessity for rebuilding or replacing the three-mile-long bridge took hold in the late 1990s, and a formal planning process began in 2000. Planners eventually took 150 concepts for a new bridge or tunnel and mass transit system and boiled them down to six options, and details of some of the options were unveiled last week. There will be open sessions at Purchase College in Westchester on Tuesday and at the Palisades Center mall in Rockland on Wednesday to view the proposals.

    Almost everything seems more complicated than in Moses’ heyday, with building a bridge the least of it.

    What kind of mass transit — bus and/or rail, and which of multiple options for either? Where to? Rail links from Rockland to Manhattan, or a transit plan covering the corridor from Suffern to Port Chester with connections beyond, or something in between? How to come up with as much as $14.5 billion for the most ambitious plan? From the public sector, a private consortium or a public-private partnership?

    How best to get public comment and to navigate between the various parties involved, including two counties with different mass transit agendas and the three major players: the New York State Department of Transportation, the New York State Thruway Authority and the Metro-North Railroad? How to do anything without riling citizens groups and environmentalists?

    Peeved at the pace of progress and failures in communication, the Westchester County executive, Andrew J. Spano, and his Rockland County counterpart, C. Scott Vanderhoef, fired off a plea last week to Gov. Eliot Spitzer to intercede in the process, saying it can’t continue as is.

    “The process now in place is confusing, unresponsive, and in several ways unreliable,” they wrote. “It comes across as bureaucratic, provincial and lacking any sense of regional vision.”

    Mike Anderson, who heads a team of engineers, planners and other experts working on detailed versions of the six proposals, says he knows there’s frustration at the pace of progress, but that’s not necessarily bad. “It’s important,” he said, “for us to do this as conscientiously and with as much public input and discussion as possible, because selecting a design as a solution and then having to defend it is the way of the past.”

    It’s a good thing that a public agency can no longer bulldoze neighborhoods willy-nilly in the name of progress. But just as it’s crucial to get this right — it’s a project meant to work for a century — it’s also important to get it done, or at least started.

    The bridge now carries 135,000 vehicles a day, though it was designed for 100,000. There’s a desperate need for east-west transit options in Rockland and Westchester beyond the automobile. Add in plans for a Catskill casino and Stewart Airport becoming the fourth major airport in the region, and Mr. Anderson may be right when he says there’s no other project in the country on this scale in such a sensitive and vital corridor.

    “This is the opposite of Robert Moses,” said Mitchell L. Moss, a professor of urban policy and planning at New York University. “Here you have a project in search of a decision-maker. There you had a decision-maker in search of a project.”

    THE goal is to start construction in 2010 and, depending on how grandiose the plan is, finish by 2015. It seems pretty optimistic, especially with no idea where the money will come from. There won’t and probably shouldn’t be a Moses, but if there’s going to be a Moses Lite, someone who can knock heads while respecting process, it will probably be Mr. Spitzer or someone he picks to be his designated hitter.

    It’s going to be a long, bumpy road no matter what; but, Moses or no Moses, someone needs to be sure the whole thing doesn’t fall through one of those nasty punch-throughs.


  2. #62

    Thumbs up Trains are awesome

    I think the train across Rockland County is pretty much set in stone for the project; since the county needs a one-seat ride to Manhattan. What's up in the air is whether Westchester will get an east-west rail line from Tarrytown to Port Chester. I'm hoping for it, but it looks like, for now, it's up in the air between light rail, bus rapid transit, and of course commuter rail. Think COMMUTER RAIL! As for the extension up to Haverstraw... there's already significant ferry development there and the tunnel just south of Haverstraw is too narrow to fit freight and commuter traffic through. This service is unlikely, but with high demand one day it might happen. I found a sweet website about Haverstraw; and it seems that the population there, which is already high, is about to explode as it revitalizes. The website is:

    As always, THINK COMMUTER RAIL!!!! Or better yet, high speed rail like in Europe.

  3. #63


    Speaking of Suburban Sprawl, as many people said Rockland is defined by...Haverstraw is the OPPOSITE OF SPRAWL. It's relatively small, and wickedly compact. There are about 30,000 people living on 1.5 square miles...denser than some parts of NYC.

  4. #64


    port chester has roughly 35 thousand residents (counting illegals) compacted into 2 sq miles as well

  5. #65


    Well then, if we're counting illegal aliens, then I can't even give you a population number for Haverstraw; a lot of them squeeze up to 10 in one-bedroom apartments... otherwise, the burbs are actually pretty dense in some areas and can surely support more mass transit options.

  6. #66


    I definately would not say the rail is set in stone, especially not because of the one seat ride. It's not even promised that it would be a one seat ride. Basically, ARC wants to build a loop at Secaucus. That's a rediculous idea because trains will run through the BRAND NEW secaucus transfer station TWICE without having any reason to stop, rendering the new station completely useless.

    Cross Rockland doesn't promise a one seat ride because the Pascack Valley Line also doesn't go to NYP.

    Cross Westchester is the closest bet Rockland has for a one seat ride, and even then, it'd be faster to ride to Secaucus and transfer. And a Manhattan connection for the cross Westchester isn't even guaranteed either. The Hudson line is probably impossible because of the great height difference. Harlem line may be possible. Right now though, they should just focus on cross westchester and save the one seat ride option for later, if ever. At this rate, it's looking like they're gonna have to eliminate commuter rail because that would require tunneling under downtown White Plains, which aint happenin.
    Besides, most bridge traffic is cross westchester bound, not Manhattan bound.

  7. #67


    The one-seat from Rockland, which will come either as a result of the Trans Hudson Express Tunnel, or from this Tappan Zee project, since Metro North is a major player in the final decision...will definitely be routed from Rockland, across the TZB, and onto the Hudson Line. That is the only option that they even have on the table. The train would enter into a tunnel at Tarrytown and into a downward loop (still in the tunnel), under Sunnyside and possibly come out at level with the Hudson Line at Mathiason Park in Irvington. Again, this is the only rail option there is. And since all agencies, in all levels of government up to federal, have committed to a "one-seat" from Rockland; it will surely come, with from NJ Transit, or from Metro North across the TZB. AND, HALF of the 6 alternatives proposed contain commuter rail from Rockland to Grand Central on the Hudson Line. Of the three that do not are: No build, Rehab, and full corridor Bus Rapid Transit, which is unlikely. I would say the one-seat is pretty much a sure deal, unless something unexpected should go wrong...which is entirely possible when dealing with the State of New York. Look at the alternatives here:
    Last edited by jarod213; March 4th, 2007 at 01:56 PM.

  8. #68


    Can someone tell me what's going on with NJ Transit and the Northern Branch and West Shore Line? Where are they in planning? Are they set on DMUs? How far up the West Shore Line do they want to go; to Haverstraw? I know that just south of Haverstraw is a tunnel that is too narrow to fit both freight and passenger service through; the freight trains on this line can be as long as 2 miles. Could they tie the West Shore Line, north of the Palisades Mall in West Nyack, into the rail line that will hopefully be built across the Tappan Zee? Check it out on google looks like a no brainer to get more rail riders, if CSX will even allow it. Also, why not attach the NJ Transit system to a cross-Westchester rail link? This would open up the worker pool in north Jersey to job markets on the "Platinum Mile" and in White Plains. They are already planning a station at the Palisades Mall, why not include a transfer here from the West Shore and Northern Branch, assuming the rail line across the TZB gets built...

  9. #69
    Moderator NYatKNIGHT's Avatar
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    Oct 2002
    Manhattan - South Village


    There is a link for West Shore Line on page 1 of this thread, but it is dated.

  10. #70


    something wrong with the link. . .

  11. #71


    Go to the Tappan Zee Bridge. Stand there, and then look at how far down the Hudson line is. Do you know how many miles it would take for even the maximum allowed incline for a train? Unless they go with a tunnel, which last I heard has been eliminated, Rockland via the Hudson is physically impractical and nearly impossible.

    NJT is intending on doing West Shore up to Havestraw, but right now, that project is on the back burner as far as I can tell. There has been no news of it at all in over a year. And the problem isn't that the tunnel can't fit both freight and passenger trains. They are the same practically. The problem is it's wide enough for only one track. CSX has been giving NJT a hard time.

    And what are you talking about with connecting the West Shore line to the Tappan Zee? You want trains comming from Havestraw running over the bridge, or trains comming from the south running over the bridge? If it's Havestraw, I don't think you'll have enough passengers to make it worth the expense of running the service. The only towns you'd have are Havestraw, Congers, and West Nyack before hitting the bridge, and West Nyack will already have bridge service via the cross county line.

    I think the best hope you have for either two is, like you said, a transfer station at the West Shore line.

    The Northern Branch I think was going to be LRT to Tenafly, but recently they said it's going to be DMU. Personally, I think that's an absolutely idiotic choice since now everyone will be forced to transfer to HBLR instead of just having it as an extension of HBLR from Tonelle Av.

    As far as physically combining NJT and MN, even just at the employment level, you are looking at SERIOUS legal issues which I'm not even going to try to get into. It's partly why no one has actually tried to get a regional system going, as helpful as it would be.

  12. #72


    The current plan for rail across the TZ includes a downward spiraling tunnel from the bridge deck to connect to the Hudson Line. If this is impossible, why are they pushing it for half of the alternatives? Does this mean that the rail alternative is unlikely? Do you think they'll opt for BRT?

    In terms of the West Shore, I meant tying it into the cross-tappan zee (cross county) rail line, from both the north and the south. To make that line viable (the West Shore), I would run the line as far north as Newburgh, with stops in Haverstraw, West Haverstraw, Stony Point, Bear Mountain, Fort Montgomery, Highland Falls, West Point, Cornwall, and finally Newburgh. A spur in Newburgh could be created and it could run along the I-84 ROW to Stewart International Airport. This would obviously be an alternative to running the Port Jervis line up to Stewart. The Palisades Mall station would be the main transfer station, or rail link. The line would provide Orange-Westchester, Orange-Jersey, Rockland-Orange, and Rockland-Jersey links.

    This rail scenario would, however, compete heavily with the ferry operations that exist in Haverstraw and Newburgh. Although, the Water Taxi service from Haverstraw to Lower Manhattan (WFC) is providing to an entirely different market as rail (GCT).

    Doesn't Metro North already deal with NJ Transit when it provides service on the Pascack Valley Line, say, from Pearl River? This is what I'm talking about; the downward spiraling tunnel at Tarrytown to the Hudson Line (I'm sure you've seen this):

    Last edited by jarod213; March 8th, 2007 at 12:14 AM.

  13. #73

    Default To Hudson Line is possible

    I did a little tinkering with a GIS system that I have access to. Here's how it IS POSSIBLE to make the grade and minimum radius of curvature requirements for a Tappan Zee to Hudson Line rail link. Yes, it does seem like a severe elevation change (it might seem impossible to the naked eye).

    The minimum curve radius for commuter rail is 1146 feet, let's say 1200 feet to be conservative. The maximum grade change for commuter rail is around 1.5% (conservative), depending on the type of locomotive and coaches. In a tunnel from the bridge, the rail line could definitely make up to a 2000 foot radius (again, overly conservative). The elevation change between the toll booths and the Hudson Line is about 100 feet (conservative). The rail line would likely be located on a lower deck, and enter the hillside significantly below the road level. So, we can estimate that train would enter the tunnel at 80 feet. In a 2000 foot radius curve down to the Hudson Line, the train would have traveled 6280 linear feet. Therefore, the grade of the tunnel would likely be around 1.27%, which is definitely in range of the maximum. Again, this is overly conservative, the actual elevation change is less, and a larger radius can be fit in the area. It is realistic to assume that this can be done. The task force would not use this scenario for half the alternatives if it wasn't possible.
    Last edited by jarod213; March 8th, 2007 at 09:53 AM.

  14. #74
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Yonkers/ Hell's Kitchen


    well done jarod213

  15. #75


    I must say you do some EXCELLENT research. I'm glad to see posters who actually DO research and take the time to add things up. Thank you.

    I'm still saying though, I remain highly skeptical. Things are only in the proposal stage(towards the end, they're slowly knockin off proposals one by one), not the planning stage. I am hoping they don't go with BRT. I think BRT should've been eliminated a long time ago. I think it should be either between LRT and commuter rail.

    Now, the West Shore line. I think Newburgh is a REAL stretch, but I'd love to see that. Still, I don't think that even with Newburg you'd have enough ridership to justify construction of a junction. A transfer station sure, but not a junction. If it's LRT, it HAS to be a transfer station since you can't run commuter and LRT on the same tracks. Even a Stewart Airport connection from Newburgh is useless since you already will have White Plains to Stewart Airport via Suffern.

    Looking at conenction options(both from Newburg and Port Jervis line):
    Newburg requires trains to run I-84, then down south, around the runway, and back up to the terminal. Port Jervis line is a straight shot into the terminals.

    I wouldn't be so quick to call the ferry service passengers a different market than potential rail to GCT passengers. You still have the Water Taxi stop at midtown for a crosstown bus connection to the GCT area, and then you have subway riders from GCT to downtown. I think you're better off with the ferry service and letting West Shore run to Hoboken via the Meadowlands.

    And yes, MN and NJT work together I believe on PVL and Port Jervis service. I don't know the details though. It might just be NY state slappin some MN logos on a few cars. Subchat folks probably know better.

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