Two significant milestones were reached yesterday on the New NY Bridge/Tappan Zee Hudson River Crossing project, which will replace the aging Tappan Zee Bridge connecting Westchester and Rockland Counties. First, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”) issued combined permits under state Environmental Conservation Law Article 25 (concerning activities on tidal wetlands), Article 11 (concerning incidental taking of endangered or threatened species) and Article 15 (water quality certification under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act). Second, the New York State Thruway Authority and DEC announced that they had signed an agreement with the environmental groups Riverkeeper and Scenic Hudson that would avoid those organizations’ potential legal challenges to the federal and state environmental review and permits for the project. Sive, Paget & Riesel has served as principal environmental counsel to the Thruway Authority and the State of New York throughout the planning and review of the project at all levels of government.
The issuance of the Section 401 water quality certification by DEC allows the remaining federal permits for the project to move forward. Project permits from the Army Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard are anticipated in the upcoming weeks. The first construction barges for the project arrived at the project site this week to begin geotechnical investigations for bridge piles; construction of temporary work platforms for the bridge is expected to begin in early May. These initial steps represent the beginning of a five-year construction process for the new bridge.
The New NY Bridge project is being built using an innovative design-build process, and is believed to be the largest such transportation project in the United States. It is also the first such project in New York State under the recently enacted legislation authorizing design-build projects. The project has involved a labyrinth of environmental reviews, approvals and permitting processes, including the intersection of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), parkland review under Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act, historic review under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, consultation under the Endangered Species Act, Essential Fish Habitat review, various Executive Orders respecting wetlands and environmental justice, and Clean Air Act conformity determinations by the Army Corps of Engineers and Coast Guard, among others.
Sive, Paget & Riesel’s involvement with the New NY Bridge project reflects the firm’s recognized expertise and experience with major transportation and infrastructure projects and the navigation of the dizzying complex of required reviews. The firm also currently represents the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on the Bayonne Bridge and Goethals Bridge projects. For more information on the New NY Bridge project or the environmental review and permitting of other major infrastructure and development projects, contact David Paget or Mark Chertok.