More than 50 Tarrytown families living in houses next to the Thruway toll plaza are coping with trees lost to the proposed construction of a new $3.9 billion Tappan Zee Bridge -- which is nothing compared to the headache they're expecting from the onslaught of equipment trucks and rats once the work gets going.
"We're going to be hearing the noise, feeling the vibrations and getting the rodents," said Tori Weisel, president of the Irving Neighborhood Preservation Association. "We're holding our breath and waiting for the next shoe to drop."
The densely-packed neighborhood is wedged between Van Wart and Paulding avenues, right next to Thruway Authority property that contains not just bridge toll booths but also employee parking and a maintenance road that runs down to the Hudson River. The area will be used during upcoming construction as a way to reach supply-laden barges arriving by water.
Last summer, Weisel began meeting with bridge project officials in hopes that they will address issues flagged by the community, a quirky collection of 43 single- and two-family houses, many dating back to the 1800s.
Both sides agreed to remove dead or scruffy trees and creeping vines on the Thruway property that encroached on residents' backyards. However, that has left the residents with no visual barrier between their homes and the Thruway site with its rotting fencing.
"So many trees have gone down that there is even more of a direct view into the toll plaza," Weisel said. "We are going to see and hear everything.
While other homeowner groups near the bridge have been meeting with the design/builder Tappan Zee Constructors, the Irving families are still waiting their turn.
"We have been actively working with residents in the Irving Neighborhood to remove damaged trees, build a new more attractive fence, and add more evergreens to spruce up the Thruway Property," said Brian Conybeare, the governor's special adviser on bridge matters. He added that the builders were also planning to sit down with the residents in the near future.
The Thruway has already planted about a dozen evergreens that might someday grow tall enough to function as visual barriers, but these measures are far from enough, Weisel said.
She and her neighbors said they fear that even more trees will be lost to make room for construction crews. "It's been one step forward and two steps back."
Residents are also still waiting for officials to address their remediation wish list, which was submitted months ago to Cuomo special adviser Larry Schwartz. Their concerns included: noise and vibration from construction vehicles, pollutants, nighttime lighting, increased crime, potential terrorism and rat infestations.