Editorial: Tappan Zee's PR blitz must be followed with action

A model of the new Tappan Zee Bridge A model of the new Tappan Zee Bridge is displayed before a public meeting in Tarrytown. (Feb. 4, 2013) Photo Credit: Lisa Weir

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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo appears to be making good on his public relations push to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge without too many ripples along the waterfront.

Cuomo’s project to replace the Tappan Zee, called New NY Bridge, is ambitious, especially for the people who will have to suffer through its construction. At community meetings -- one in Tarrytown in Westchester on Monday and another in Upper Nyack in Rockland on Tuesday -- representatives of Tappan Zee Constructors, the consortium that landed the $3.9 billion job, explained their designs for the 3-mile span. They include two separate spans, eight traffic lanes, wide shoulders for emergency vehicles, public walkways and bike paths, faster electronic tolling, changeable lighting (like the Empire State Building) and, if funds are available, future opportunities for bus or rail transit.

On Monday, the new team unveiled a video of a virtual drive across the bridge, launched a website for job seekers (www.TappanZeeConstructors.com), announced around-the-clock noise and air quality monitors that can be viewed online and touted a 24-hour hotline for complaints. The bridge builders also opened walk-in offices on Tuesday on each side of the river, one in Tarrytown and another in Nyack, and vowed to address all noise complaints within one hour — or face costly state-imposed shutdowns by the soon-to-be-selected construction manager.

Cuomo has long said the decrepit bridge is a symbol of New York's dysfunction and that a new crossing can show that government is working and New York is open for business.

"We're trying to go from dysfunction to construction," Brian Conybeare, Cuomo's special adviser on the bridge, told the crowd of roughly 100 people Monday night in Tarrytown. "The clock is now ticking, and they are ready to take action."

The bar to address community concerns set by this road show is quite high -- and that's good for residents in its vicinity. The state’s response is sure to be tested as soon as the dredging, pile driving and massive mobilization of barges begin along the Hudson River.

Problems will almost certainly arise during five years of construction, and the governor's response must match his words thus far. That's when we'll know if the new New York is any different from the old broken one.
 

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