A 16-member panel of artists, historians and everyday bridge users was selected Friday to offer up ideas about how the replacement for the Tappan Zee Bridge should look.
The New York State Thruway Authority calls the group the Visual Quality Panel. It will be expected to offer opinions on everything from lighting to bike paths to the design team the state hired to build a new $3.9 billion bridge -- as well paint colors.
Thruway chairman Howard Milstein said the panel will act as a surrogate voice for the concerns of the Hudson Valley residents who will be the bridge's most frequent users.
"Along with expanding mass transit, a central goal of this project is to give the people of Westchester and Rockland counties, as well as the entire Hudson Valley, a bridge they can be proud of," Milstein said.
The panel will be asked for its take on some of the historical artwork that will adorn the bridge's bike and pedestrian paths. They will weigh in on the type of lighting that will be used and whether it should be directed inward onto the roadway or out onto the Hudson River.
"The Visual Quality Panel will give the public a direct line to the design team," Milstein added. "Their recommendations will help us make informed decisions about what options on the bridge are best for the surrounding communities."
The panel will begin its regular meetings this month.
Chairing the panel is Brian Conybeare, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's special adviser on the bridge. The panel will include members of Tappan Zee Constructors, the Texas-based consortium chosen in December to build and design the bridge. They will be joined by planners from Westchester County, Tarrytown and Orangetown, as well as Jerry Faiella, the executive director of Historic Hudson River towns. Also on the panel is Elma Reingold, an Irvington resident and the assistant principal of the High School of Art and Design in New York City.
The panel is the third created by the Thruway Authority to engage the public in the bridge's five-year construction phase.
Last year, a panel of artists and historians was named to offer its recommendations on who would build and design the bridge. A mass transit task force will hold its third meeting next Friday, to discuss options for adding rail or extended bus service on the bridge.
Cuomo has said he would like to begin construction on the new bridge later this year.
The state is still awaiting word on whether it has secured a nearly $2 billion federal loan, the centerpiece of its financing plan.
The Thruway will issue bonds to pay for the rest of the cost of the bridge. Money that's borrowed will be paid back by hiking the current $5 toll on the bridge.