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Tappan Zee Bridge/I-287 Environmental Review

FAQs

  1. Why is the I-287 Corridor being studied?
  2. What is the planning process that will be used to study the I-287 Corridor?
  3. How will the public be involved in the study process?
  4. Is the Tappan Zee Bridge safe?
  5. What problems exist on the bridge?
  6. How many vehicles cross the bridge each day?
  7. How many accidents occur on the bridge each day?
  8. What initiatives has the Thruway Authority taken to support
    Transportation System Management (TSM) and
    Transportation Demand Management (TDM) strategies?
  9. Are "time-of-day" congestion pricing and high-occupancy lane
    programs currently in place to reduce traffic on the Tappan Zee Bridge?
  10. Will you build a new bridge?
  11. Why are you looking at adding public transit in the I-287 Corridor?
  12. What kinds of transit modes will the project examine?
  13. How will you determine if people will get out of their cars and
    onto public transit?
  14. Will you be connecting any new transit lines in the I-287 Corridor
    to existing Metro-North rail lines and stations?
  15. What is the difference between Light Rail and Commuter Rail?
  16. Will any of the proposed alternatives adversely affect the environment?
  17. How can I get more information?

Q1 - Why is the I-287 Corridor being studied?
A - Congestion along the I-287 Corridor will continue to worsen, and the structural needs of the Tappan Zee Bridge must be addressed. Currently the corridor experiences varying levels of traffic congestion throughout the 30-mile length. About 140,000 vehicles cross the 3.1-mile Tappan Zee Bridge every day, with volumes as high as 170,000 vehicles daily. If nothing is done to relieve congestion in the I-287 Corridor between Suffern and Port Chester, by 2030 traffic crossing the bridge will increase to about 200,000 cars per day. Travel times are predicted to grow significantly.

The bridge does not meet current seismic criteria. It also does not have shoulders to accommodate emergency vehicles and breakdowns. The Tappan Zee Bridge is a primary Hudson River crossing north of New York City, providing jobs and services for much of upstate New York, and an important trucking route. It is a critical bridge that must remain open and passable during emergencies. On September 11, 2001, for example, when all other crossings were closed, the Tappan Zee Bridge was the single regional crossing open to transport people, medical supplies, military personnel and goods. In any event, the bridge is safe, due in large part to a rigorous program of maintenance and inspection.

The only transit available for travel in the I-287 Corridor at this time is limited bus service, and there is little connectivity among transit providers. Other than bus services operated in mixed traffic, which experience the same amount of congestion as all other traffic, no other east-to-west modal alternatives exist in the corridor. The existing commuter rail lines provide service only north and south from Orange and Rockland counties into New Jersey and from Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties to Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan. As a result, a number of potential transit markets are not served by a dedicated transit system. These transit markets include: trips from origins west of the Hudson to Midtown Manhattan; travel wholly within the corridor among Rockland and Westchester counties origins and destinations; and travel through the corridor with either an origin or destination in Orange, Putnam or Fairfield counties. Back to top

Q2 - What is the planning process that will be used to study the I-287 Corridor?

A –The first stage of the project, completed in 2006, yielded an Alternatives Analysis (AA) report that identified and evaluated 150 alternative elements suggested by the public. Those 150 elements were combined into 16 scenarios. After further analysis, the 16 scenarios were reduced to six alternatives that will be studied in more detail in the second phase of the project, the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) process.

Recommendations concerning bridge replacement and transit modes were made at the end of 2008 in conjunction with public information meetings and a comment period. The results of this Level 3 screening are documented in two reports:

  • Rehabilitation and replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge as documented in the Alternatives Analysis for Rehabilitation and Replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge Report, March 2009. Replacement of the bridge is recommended.
  • Selection of a transit mode (as documented in the Transit Mode Selection Report 2009). A cross corridor bus rapid transit (BRT) system is recommended from Suffern, NY to Port Chester, NY and a commuter rail transit (CRT) system is recommended across Rockland County (from Suffern, NY), across the replacement Tappan Zee Bridge, with a direct connection to the Hudson line in Tarrytown for the service to Grand Central Terminal.

Transit and highway alignment options as well as bridge design options are currently under study.

The project is being conducted in accordance with both the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) and will generate a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). With the completion of the FEIS process, the federal lead agencies, FHWA and FTA, will issue a Record of Decision (ROD) and the three state sponsors will issue a Statement of Findings. Back to top

Q3 - How will the public be involved in the study process?

A – Public participation is essential, and the project sponsors are committed to a continuous and comprehensive participatory program that involves community groups and organizations, local businesses and interested individuals. In addition, the agencies update elected and appointed officials within the corridor area. The outreach effort includes: community outreach centers in Westchester and Rockland counties; a Stakeholder Committee comprising a wide range of organizations and individuals; public meetings at each project milestone; presentations to The Stakeholder Advisory Work Groups (SAWG's); The Intermetropolitain Planning Organization (IMPO) Committee, the Tappan Zee Bridge I-287 Task Force, community groups and organizations; newsletters; press releases and this project Web site, which is updated to reflect project milestones, announcements and meetings. Back to top

Q4 - Is the Tappan Zee Bridge safe?

Yes, the Tappan Zee Bridge is safe. The New York State Thruway Authority operates a regular program of scheduled maintenance designed specifically to ensure that the bridge is safe for travel. The bridge also receives a detailed inspection every two years by qualified engineers. Back to top

Q5 - What problems exist on the bridge?

The bridge originally was designed to handle much less traffic than it does now. Separately from this project, the Thruway Authority has responded with a range of maintenance projects, including a deck replacement project (This is an external link and will open in a new browser window) now under way. While the deck replacement project will certainly reduce repair-related traffic delays, it will not add an emergency breakdown lane or address congestion in the corridor.

Q6 - How many vehicles cross the bridge each day?

About 140,000 vehicles cross the 3.1-mile Tappan Zee Bridge every day, with numbers as high as 170,000 vehicles daily. When the bridge opened in 1955, it carried an average of18,000 vehicles daily. The bridge has increasing hours of delay, congestion and increasing peak hour. Back to top

Q7 - How many accidents occur on the bridge each day?

An average of three accidents each day takes place on the Tappan Zee Bridge. Because the existing bridge has no breakdown or emergency lane, even minor traffic accidents cause severe traffic backups in both directions, which can delay response time seriously for these and other potentially life-threatening emergencies. [ Back to top ]

Q8 - What initiatives have been taken to support Transportation System Management (TSM) and Transportation Demand Management (TDM) strategies?

A – TSM improvements focus on optimizing the carrying capacity of roads by alleviating congestion and reducing accidents while TDM targets driver behavior, mode choice and employers to reduce traffic demand on the roads, especially during peak travel times.

TSM strategies include:

  • Movable barriers on the Tappan Zee Bridge.
  • Dynamic Message Signs with traffic information.
  • Highway Advisory Radio.

TDM strategies include:

  • Park and Ride lots in the I-287 Corridor with shuttle bus service via the TZ Express to Tarrytown Train Station.
  • Higher speed E-Z Pass.
  • Incentive Pricing for commercial vehicles with half-tolls during non-peak hours in the morning commute southbound (eastbound) at the Tappan Zee Bridge and in the afternoon non-peak hours in the commute northbound (westbound) at the Spring Valley Toll Barrier (see below).
  • Encouraging flexible work hours.
  • Transit Check.
  • Half-price tolls for high occupancy (three or more passenger vehicles) at the Tappan Zee Bridge Toll Barrier.
  • Vehicle Classification and Incentive Pricing Toll Schedules (This is an external link and will open in a new browser window) for Spring Valley and Tappan Zee Bridge.

Q9 - Are "time-of-day" congestion pricing and high-occupancy vehicle programs in place to reduce traffic on the Tappan Zee Bridge?

A – Yes, Congestion pricing has been in effect for commercial vehicles on the Tappan Zee Bridge since 1997, with the aim of encouraging commercial traffic on the bridge during non-peak hours. Extending congestion pricing for all vehicles remains an option. In addition, the Thruway Authority is helping implement transportation demand management (TDM) measures, including vanpooling and the use of shuttle and bus services, which are designed to reduce traffic.[ Back to top ]

A – As part of the study process, the Project Team has evaluated issues and conditions associated with building a new bridge and rehabilitating the existing bridge. The results of these analyses are presented in the Alternatives Analysis for Rehabilitation and Replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge Report, March 2009. Replacement of the bridge is recommended.

Q11 - Why are you looking at adding public transit in the I-287 Corridor?

A – Adding transit to the I-287 Corridor could help minimize corridor travel delay, reduce travel times, provide travel choices, improve local and regional mobility, foster economic growth and improve air quality. [ Back to top ]

Q12 - What transit modes are you examining?

A – A cross corridor bus rapid transit (BRT) system is recommended from Suffern, NY to Port Chester, NY and a commuter rail transit (CRT) system is recommended across Rockland County (from Suffern, NY), across the replacement Tappan Zee Bridge, with a direct connection to the Hudson line in Tarrytown for the service to Grand Central Terminal.

Q13 - How will you determine if people will get out of their cars and onto public transit?

A - The selection of transit modes in the corridor is documented in the Transit Mode Selection Report 2009. The TMSR details the travel demand model results which forecasts future travel patterns in the region based on projected social and economic growth. The model includes the regional highway and transit networks and predicts how people would decide on a travel mode based on estimated travel delays on congested highways, available transit options and other related factors. The results of the model runs in the design year indicated excellent ridership numbers for both the BRT and CRT proposed transit modes in the project corridor. [ Back to top ]

Q14 - Will you be connecting any new transit lines in the I-287 Corridor to existing Metro-North rail lines and stations?

A - The selection of transit modes in the corridor is documented in the Transit Mode Selection Report 2009. The TMSR details the travel demand model results which forecasts future travel patterns in the region based on projected social and economic growth. The model includes the regional highway and transit networks and predicts how people would decide on a travel mode based on estimated travel delays on congested highways, available transit options and other related factors. The results of the model runs in the design year indicated excellent ridership numbers for both the BRT and CRT proposed transit modes in the project corridor.   

Each of the alternatives under study offers different potential benefits to the region; all are focused on cross-corridor solutions that address traveler needs on both sides of the Hudson River, between Suffern and Port Chester. All build alternatives offer connections to Metro North Lines. [ Back to top ]

Q15 - What is the difference between Light Rail and Commuter Rail?

A - Light Rail essentially is a modern evolution of the conventional trolley. Light Rail Transit (LRT) operates electric or diesel vehicles carrying up to 200 passengers at speeds up to 55 mph. LRT runs either on tracks on exclusive lanes in city arterials or in a separate right-of-way. LRT is designed to adapt to a variety of environments, including streets, freeway medians, railroad rights-of-way (operating or abandoned), pedestrian malls, underground or arterial structures or even in the beds of drained canals. This design flexibility most clearly distinguishes it from other rail modes. Light Rail vehicles can be tailored to the needs of specific operating environments, such as track alignments that include sharp turns and steep grades. The implementation of LRT as a new cross-corridor transit system was analyzed and compared to other transit modes in the TMSR report. LRT was eliminated based on its high cost and low projected ridership.

Commuter Rail, also known as "regional rail" or "suburban rail," refers to passenger trains operated on main line railroad tracks between metropolitan and suburban areas, whether within or across the geographical boundaries of a state. These usually are characterized by reduced fares for multiple rides and commutation tickets for regular, recurring riders. The trains usually comprise a locomotive and a number of passenger coaches that can be electrified or diesel-hauled, reaching speeds up to 100 mph. The coaches are dimensionally similar to intercity (Amtrak) coaches with lower-density seating than Light Rail. Commuter Rail lines usually operate over existing rail lines and can share rails with freight operators. [ Back to top ]

Q16 - Will any of the proposed alternatives adversely affect air quality and the environment?

A - All proposed alternatives will undergo a rigorous environmental and public review to ensure that the entire ecosystem of the Hudson River and the surrounding region are protected.

Q17 -How can I get more information?

A - Visit this site often for updates and announcements. The public is encouraged to stay involved and to offer feedback via e-mail, mail, phone or fax. Contact us for details.       [ Back to top ]