Last week, the White House announced the selection of New York’s Tappan Zee Bridge and 13 other priority infrastructure projects for expedited federal permitting and environmental review.  Sive, Paget & Riesel is serving as special environmental counsel on the Tappan Zee Hudson River Crossing Project, which is evaluating the proposed replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge.

According to the White House, the projects were chosen because they are “high priority infrastructure projects that will create a significant number of jobs, have already identified necessary funding, and … the significant steps remaining before construction are within the control and jurisdiction of the federal government and can be completed within 18 months.”  The announcement follows an August 2011 Presidential Memorandum directing federal agencies, including the Department of Transportation, to identify proposals for expedited and coordinated environmental review.

By improving coordination among federal agencies, reducing duplicative review and allowing reviews to be done concurrently, the White House expects to reduce the permitting process for the Tappan Zee Bridge by two and a half years.  The Presidential Memorandum also calls for progress on these 14 projects to be tracked on a central website, which will provide information on outstanding government approvals and anticipated completion dates.

The Tappan Zee Bridge was built in 1950, and it costs the state $100 million annually for  upkeep and repair.  New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo called the recent announcement “a shot in the arm for the [Tappan Zee Hudson River Crossing] project and a major step forward to restoring this key piece of infrastructure and putting tens of thousands of New Yorkers back to work.”  The project is currently being reviewed under the National Environmental Policy Act, and construction could begin as soon as 2013.