TARRYTOWN, N.Y. – The proposed Tappan Zee Bridge will include part-time dedicated bus lanes during rush hours, state officials said.
The rush-hour lanes will accommodate buses on the bridge, but is not part of a wider, regional bus rapid-transit system.
“As we have repeatedly said, the new bridge will support enhanced express bus service the day it opens, even if connecting infrastructure is not yet available in Westchester or Rockland counties,” Thruway Authority Executive Director Tom Madison said in a statement.
The move comes after criticism of the new bridge's lack of a mass-transit system such as bus rapid transit. Advocacy groups and politicians throughout the region had called for a transit component to be added to the bridge to help ease congestion and pollution.
State officials said the new bridge won't preclude future mass-transit, but cite the lack of infrastructure on either side of the bridge, as well as added costs, as the reason behind the current proposal.
The new Tappan Zee Bridge will include four lanes of traffic and dedicated shoulders on each side, with additional lanes for emergency services. The north span would include a walkway for pedestrians and bicyclists.
State officials have not yet released a financial plan for the new bridge. The state was not selected to apply for a $2 billion federal loan in April, which would have covered about a third of the estimated $5.2 billion price tag. The state is expected to reapply for the loan and federal officials said it has been placed on a short list for future funds.
Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino said in a statement the move to include a rush-hour bus lane was “a step in the right direction and a hopeful development for those of us who have been strongly advocating for Bus Rapid Transit to be part of the bridge from the start as a means of limiting congestion and pollution.”
“Still, as with the Final Environmental Impact Statement, facts about cost, financing and design of the bridge, more details are needed and I look forward to reviewing them,” he said.
Veronica Vanterpool, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, called the news encouraging.
“This is an important first step and a small victory, to improve bus commutes for hundreds of existing daily bus riders who idle in gridlock along with cars and trucks,” she said.
Vanterpool said her organization applauded the state's effort to respond to the calls for a mass-transit system on the bridge, but urged them to expand it beyond rush hour and into the I-287 corridor.