Fast-Tracking the High Priority Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge
Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge
Rockland and Westchester Counties, NY
New York State Thruway Authority
AKRF was selected by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office to prepare the Environmental Impact Statement for construction of the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, which replaced the Tappan Zee Bridge in 2017. The new 3.1-mile, $3.98 billion twin-span bridge crosses the Hudson River between Rockland and Westchester Counties in New York. As lead environmental consultants, AKRF continues to provide NEPA/SEQRA support and work on numerous net conservation benefit and mitigation projects for the new bridge.
After ten years of development and at a critical point when the project was fast-tracked by President Barack Obama as one of 14 high-priority infrastructure projects across the country, AKRF led the environmental review process for the replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge, which carries the New York State Thruway (Interstate 87/287) across the Hudson River between Rockland and Westchester Counties in New York.
The bridge, which is owned and maintained by the New York State Thruway Authority (NYSTA), is a critical link in the local and regional transportation network. Built in the 1950s, the existing bridge carries approximately 134,000 vehicles per day but does not meet modern traffic and design standards, while also requiring frequent and costly maintenance to remain in a state of good repair. The replacement bridge will meet modern design and seismic standards, and will consist of two parallel structures—one eastbound, the other westbound, with the latter including a bicycle and pedestrian path.
Working closely with the Federal Highway Administration, NYSTA, and the New York State Department of Transportation (federal lead agency and joint lead agencies, respectively), as well as the project’s legal counsel, engineers, and outreach consultants, AKRF completed the federal and state environmental review process and achieved a Record of Decision in just 11 months. Concurrently, AKRF facilitated parallel approval and permit processes, requiring extensive coordination with numerous agencies. Bridge permits were obtained within six months of the Record of Decision. In recognition of this feat, the project was honored as “Project of the Year” by the Institute of Transportation Engineers, Metropolitan Section of New York and New Jersey.
The project’s location in a densely populated area and an important estuarine environment led to the analysis of a broad spectrum of environmental issues. Careful consideration was given to potential effects on riverfront communities and ecological resources in and around the Hudson River Estuary. This area contains a number of protected resources, such as federally and state-listed endangered mammal, avian, and fish species, wetlands, and historic and archaeological resources. In addition, the project is within a regulated coastal zone and crosses a navigable waterway of the United States.
To evaluate potential effects on water and ecological resources, the EIS included analysis of issues related to sedimentation, scouring, disturbance of habitat, hydroacoustic effects on fish species, and marine transportation. The EIS resulted in a number of Environmental Performance Commitments (EPCs) and mitigation techniques to ensure minimal impacts during construction and beyond the construction phase.