The cash-strapped villages at the foot of the Tappan Zee Bridge are feeling pressure to prepare for the onslaught of bridge-related demands sure to arise during the construction of the multibillion-dollar double span during the next five years.
Tarrytown, the municipality that will be hit hardest on the Westchester County side of the Hudson River, is about to assemble a team to answer contractors' questions as they arise. The issues they anticipate include arranging water hookups for fighting fires on the bridge and how to make parking arrangements for construction crews.
"We have to be prepared to have answers so that the contractor can't blame the Village of Tarrytown for delaying the project," Supervisor Mike Blau said.
The pace of preparation quickened last week after Wednesday's announcement that a panel of state-appointed experts had selected one of the three competing designs for the new bridge. The panel's preference for the lowest bid -- at $3.1 billion -- will be up for a deciding vote before the State Thruway Authority on Dec. 17.
Blau said that Tarrytown's fire, police, engineering and public works departments will be sitting down soon to hash out detailed plans. They need to compile information about Tarrytown's water, sewage and other infrastructure, as well as review zoning issues that might relate to village land use by bridge construction crews, he said.
With no money for new hires and village resources already stretched to the limit, Blau is hoping that the state eventually will pitch in with funding.
"This is going to be an added burden on the community to be responsive to the contractor," he said.
There is also anxiety on the Rockland County side of the Hudson. There, Nyack Mayor Jen White is uncertain how her tiny village of 6,800 residents will be affected by one of the largest infrastructure projects in the nation. White is wondering how Nyack will cope with the daily arrival of thousands of contractors. Cuomo has estimated that the number of jobs created during the life of the project could reach 45,000.
White said it will be "hard to plan ahead" until the riverfront towns get more information about construction plans. She said she intends to call the governor's office to request more information. "Until we actually have something to look at, it is hard to have specific concerns," she said.
South Nyack, located at the bridge's Rockland entrance, is finding it impossible to plan ahead.
"We're not doing anything right now and are waiting to see what they need from us, if and when," said Mayor Tish DuBow. "We'll proceed from there."
State bridge project officials did not return calls for comment.