South Nyack Tappan Zee Bridge toll plaza will be temporary, state says

Bonnie Christian, mayor of South Nyack, speaks about the temporary tolls that will be installed for the new Tappan Zee Bridge. (June 14, 2013) videojournalist: Sarah Armaghan

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Earlier this year, leaders in South Nyack said they were grateful when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo assured them a Tappan Zee Bridge toll plaza in their village would be temporary -- but they wanted the governor's assurance in writing.

On Friday they got their wish when the state said it would write the agreement into the contract for the new bridge. Peter Sanderson, project director of the New New York Bridge Project, sent a letter to South Nyack Mayor Bonnie Christian solidifying promises that the "all electronic toll gantry," an archway that will be placed at Exit 10 in South Nyack, will be temporary during construction of the new Tappan Zee Bridge.

The plaza will not have toll booths and vehicles won't be required to stop, Sanderson said. The arch-like structure will span 60 feet above the road surface, extending across the four eastbound lanes and across the eastbound on-ramp at interchange 10, he said. The state won't add new lanes or widen the Thruway, and officials say the booth-less plaza can process some 2,000 vehicles per lane, per hour. The state also will install noise barriers at the plaza.

Christian appeared with Brian Conybeare, the bridge project's spokesman, at a news conference Friday afternoon to announce the state's assurances.

"In the beginning we would have rather not had (the toll gantry) at all but we listened to the Thruway people and found out why temporarily they needed to do this," Christian said. "As long as we got a commitment, which we did today, I'm confident it'll be taken down...so we're very happy about that."

A new, permanent toll collection plaza will be placed in the vicinity of the existing Tarrytown toll plaza, state officials said. When construction is completed in 2018, the electronic gantry system will be moved from South Nyack to Tarrytown.

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Conybeare said the state also would honor its side of the compromise by minimizing the impact on South Nyack, a tiny village of 3,500 that covers 1.7 square miles and has only three commercial businesses within its borders.

"Basically, cars would continue to go 55 miles an hour. You don't have to slow down to pay your toll. Your EZ-Pass would be read by a machine that is up on top of the archway," Coneybeare said. "If you don't have an E-ZPass, there will be cameras mounted there that'll take a picture of your license plate and send you a bill in the mail. There should be no traffic backups because of this...The whole idea is to keep traffic moving during the construction process."

Being a small village without cramped roads or a busy downtown is part of South Nyack's charm, Christian said.

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"We're not here to stand in (the way of) progress, but we don't want our village to be torn apart at the end either," she said.

As part of ongoing efforts in the early stages of the bridge construction process, the state installed two additional noise monitors this week, Sanderson said -- one at Exit 10 and the other at Salisbury Point. The state expects to install four more monitors over the next month near Grandview Village Hall, as well as on Berachah Avenue, River Road and Ferris Lane.

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