CASTELLI APPLAUDS FEDERAL ENVIRONMENTAL APPROVAL FOR ‘NEW NY BRIDGE’
L-R: Assemblyman Steve Katz, Congresswoman Nan Hayworth and Assemblyman Bob Castelli prior to the signing of the historic Record of Decision for the new Tappan Zee Bridge in South Nyack on September 25th, 2012.
Assemblyman Robert J. Castelli today joined Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in announcing that the Federal Highway Administration has issued a Record of Decision (ROD) approving the state’s plan for a new bridge to replace the Tappan Zee. This federal approval completes the last step in the review of the project’s environmental impact, allowing the state to move forward with implementing a plan to build a new bridge.
“As an environmentalist, I am pleased that many federal agencies, like the Fish and Wildlife Service, have comprehensively reviewed this project and are now ready to sign off, without having taken any shortcuts,” Castelli said. “This once again demonstrates that our Federal government is confident that we can build this new bridge in a way that is responsible to the community and offers the best protections for the environment. My hat is off to Governor Cuomo and his team for having accomplished another milestone, proving more can be done in ten months than the past thirteen years when a dynamic leader, working with bipartisan cooperation, puts public service ahead of politics.”
“In less than a year, the project to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge was expedited by President Obama, public hearings were held, the environmental review process was completed, and now the federal government has approved the plan,” Governor Cuomo said. “With this major milestone, New York once again is demonstrating that we can make government work efficiently and effectively for the people of the state, and we can take a large step toward building a safer, better and more reliable bridge.”
The ROD was signed by Jonathan McDade, Division Administrator for the Federal Highway Administration New York Division, with Castelli on-hand, joined by Thomas Madison, Executive Director of the New York State Thruway Authority, and Commissioner Joan McDonald, of the New York State Department of Transportation, and federal and state elected officials.
Representatives from a dozen federal and state agencies were in daily contact and met weekly throughout the environmental review process leading to the ROD. Federal agencies involved include the Federal Highway Administration; Environmental Protection Agency; National Marine Fisheries Service; U.S. Coast Guard; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; and Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. State agencies involved include the Department of Environmental Conservation; Department of State; Office of General Services; Thruway Authority; Department of Transportation; and Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
Environmental review of the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project was accelerated after the project was fast-tracked by President Obama on October 11, 2011, and all required steps in the process have been completed. A Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was released on January 24, 2012. In February and March, 1,100 individuals attended public hearings, and 3,000 submitted written comments on the DEIS.
The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was issued on August 1, 2012 and contained comprehensive requirements for mitigating environmental and public concerns raised on the impacts of construction. This included environmental protective steps such as use of bubble curtains to protect fish from acoustic effects of pile driving, limits on dredging to avoid peak fish migration and spawning and requiring that a National Marine and Fish Services approved species observer be present during dredging to ensure that any sturgeon captured during dredging are documented and released.
As part of the environmental process the National Marine Fisheries Service issued a biological opinion in June stating the project will not be likely to result in jeopardy to the endangered shortnose or Atlantic sturgeon. The FEIS also includes extensive actions to mitigate public concerns, including installing 24-hour video cameras to document the project, noise monitors to measure construction noise and air quality monitors to assess emissions.