The aim of this paper is to resolve a variety of public questions about the construction of the Tappan Zee Bridge in Westchester County, New York, which spans the Hudson River. The residents of Westchester County experience big issues with traffic, the climate, and the high cost of toll fares while using this bridge to get to New York. The Tappan Zee Bridge’s building is critical in order to address the public’s concerns. It should be carefully planned and enforced in accordance with the legal rules and policies of the United States government. A railroad must be included in the bridge, as well as a bus path (Berger, 2014).
The construction of Tappan Zee Bridge will address many public issues of both Westchester County and Rockland County. To support the argument, two resolutions will be presented in this paper, which will highlight why and how the construction can help in transforming the public’s issues. There have been various controversies regarding the construction of Tappan Zee Bridge, but it is strongly believed that its construction will help in child and student welfare, clean air and safe food for the locality. Additionally, swift transportation and traffic will generate numerous benefits, including health, security, jobs, and access to quality education for the county (McAdam, 2011).
This paper will discuss the construction of the Tappan Zee Bridge, by defining the key issues regarding the need of construction and how helpful and beneficial it is for the public, but will also give insights on critics counter-arguments on this issue. Finally, the paper will conclude by giving a couple of resolutions that can be applied in order to reduce the critic’s arguments.
Defining the Issue
The Government of New York State has an important role, as serious decisions regarding the Tappan Zee Bridge are to be made at the present. Being the largest bridge in the state of New York, it is estimated that Tappan Zee Bridge will cost around $4 to $5 billion. The collapse of the I-35W Mississippi River bridge in Minnesota in 2007 have raised serious worries for authorities. This made them aware regarding the right use of materials, which should be strong (as it has to hold tons of steel and load on it), should be cost-effective and does not in any way affect the climate or weather conditions (LePatner, 2010).
Construction of modern bridges involves more than material and capital. Bridge-building has influences on a variety of social and economic factors. The construction can impact people migration, environment, energy, traffic flow, health measures, and weather changes. Therefore, engineers have to focus on designs that are efficiently planned, implementing all policies regarding safety (during and after construction), using eco-friendly, feasible and reliable material, and considering risk factors and CO2 emission (McDonald, 2011).
The current bridge offers no relief to the rising traffic congestion that jeopardizes to limit both counties growth and decreases the quality of life in the towns close by (Smith, 2012). Thus it can be argued that it was necessary to replace the bridge. The recommended features of the proposed bridge will help with all the issues that are concerned with the public such as relieve congestion, enhance air quality, accomplish sustainability objectives, and decrease travel time, and they are as following:
- There should be 4 vehicle lanes on each span of the bridge, bringing the total number of lanes to 8.
- There should be a separate path for pedestrian and bicycle travelers.
- The Tappan Zee Bridge should connect highways on both ends of the riverbank, i.e. Westchester County and Rockland County.
- The estimated costs for constructing the bridge will be around $ 4 to 5 billion.
- The bridge tolls would cost travelers around $ 13 for a round trip.
- The builder of this bridge will be the National Department of Transportation.
- The bridge will be maintained and administrated by the New York State Thruway Authority.
- A separate Railway Track should also be build either below the road traffic span of the bridge or on the sideways of the bridge.
Construction of a bridge, from the decision-making phase to the execution of the design and plan is a holistic conceptual process, which includes a detailed survey of the construction methods, the material selection and products for its construction. The design should be satisfactory in general, highlighting the long-term benefits of its construction. The Tappan Zee should also be following all the articles as mentioned in the National Environment Policy Act, Clean Air Act, and Pollution Prevention Act. Moreover, the bridge has to be licensed from the Environment Protection Agency (EPA). Under this license, the Tappan Zee Bridge will automatically include and consider various factors such as soil erosion controls, dust control, and noise monitoring. (McDonald, 2011) The Environmental Management Implementation Plan (EMIP) is the most crucial element for the contractors of the Tappan Zee Bridge. This plan will ensure and monitor proper environmental inspection and will also help the workers regarding the remedies mentioned in the EMP are executed and managed. They will identify the factors through, which will enhance environmental performance on the site of the bridge (El-Diraby & O’Connor, 2001). The engineers should guide the workers and labors regarding pollution, its prevention and how to manage the waste of the construction and excavation site. A smart and clever layout following effective measures to reduce the possibility of pollution will ensure reduced environmental impact of Tappan Zee Bridge (Wolf, 2010).
According to an interview with Rob Astorino, who is the Executive for the Westchester County, a media personality, a politician, and a radio host and program director, it was told that billions of dollars have been spent on the renovation of Tappan Zee bridge to date however no sound results or outcomes have been witnessed. This suggests that all of those billions have been wasted so far. According to Astorino, a new bridge is proposed to be constructed replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge and that the expected cost will exceed $ 4 to 5billions. Furthermore, in his interview, the county executive also ensured that the bridge is currently safe to drive and that it does not impose any danger for the people of Westchester County or New York (Youtube, 2011).
In another interview with Mike Elmendorf, President and CEO of the Associated General Contractors (AGC), Tappan Zee Bridge is a big and critical project, and due to its importance, the Governor of the State has put things on a fast track so that it may finish by 2018. The project is so important that the governor and the government also oversee the huge loans and investments. According to Mike, the project has already started, and the authorities have started taking the issue seriously. He further added that, if something is not done to do the bridge at the moment, then it might create challenges for the region’s economy in the coming years (Youtube, 2013).
Strong support from the public sector has been witnessed for the construction of a new Tappan Zee Bridge. Numerous Congressmen and women are supporting the construction of the bridge. While many State Senators have thanked the Governor for taking initiatives towards the construction of the new Tappan Zee Bridge. Since, all the discussion in the past showed no output therefore the public sector had lost all hope, however, the initiatives towards the construction / replacement of the New Tappan Zee bridge has given a beam of hope for the people of Rockland and Westchester Counties. ‘The replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge would create much-needed employment for New Yorkers and carry economic prosperity to our city and beyond,’ says State Senator David Carlucci (NY.gov, 2014).
Although the benefits of replacing the bridge are essential, many factors play a role in the opposing reasoning behind this issue. The primary and secondary environmental considerations will depend on the construction site activities and sensitivity of the Hudson River, its marine life, Westchester County and Rockland County. Since, the climatic conditions are of serious concern globally, the impacts on the environment from the construction and infrastructure of Tappan Zee Bridge should be minimized as much as possible (McAdam, 2011). Environment plays a key role as emission of CO2 and other toxic gases during the construction phase can directly affect the environment and global climatic conditions. Moreover, since the bridge is supposed to construct over a river, therefore it may also harm the marine life of the Hudson River (Wolf, 2010).
The critics of the proposed Tappan Zee Bridge are of the view that, if the aim of building this bridge is public welfare, the government has other areas, which require its attention. The amount that will be spent on the construction of this bridge can be spent on the welfare of homeless families or improving the quality of education and educational facilities offered to the citizens. Moreover, during the tenure of construction, the travelers will have to face difficulties in the form of traffic jams; this will slow down traffic and will increase the time of commute. Additionally, with transportation of different completed parts of the bridge from construction sight to the actual bridge site. During this transportation, the transportation authorities will have to close down major subways where during official hours, light and heavy traffic passes frequently.
Also, once the bridge is completed and open for traffic, the burden of Rockland’s traffic will be shifted towards Westchester. In this scenario, the traffic flow of Westchester will get distributed, and major traffic jams will be reported. As a result, the transportation authority will also have to increase the capacity of existing roads, subways and thruways in the county of Westchester. Lastly, as the flow of traffic over the Hudson River will increase, it will disturb the natural environment of the river and the surroundings. This is mainly because of the increased emission of CO2 from the fuel consumed by the vehicles passing over the river. With the construction of the proposed Tappan Zee Bridge, the sea habitat of the Hudson River will be endangered. This is because tons of construction material will be dumped in the river, which will cause the emission of hazardous materials and chemicals and consequently endanger the sea habitats.
Although these are all valid point, they all can be resolved during and after the construction of the bridge. It has been evidenced that 5% of the total CO2 emission in the world is due to cement. Therefore, it is mandatory that for the construction of the Tappan Zee Bridge, smart and efficient use of cement be ensured. For this purpose, cement can be mixed with a good alternative; for example, fly ash and calcareous filler. Moreover, eco-friendly cements can be used wherever possible. This illustrates that instead of using CEMI Portland cement; CEMIII/B slag cement can be used. This will effectively reduce the CO2 emission to 65% – 75% of the total carbon emission caused by cement (McAdam, 2011). Furthermore, the major focus of engineers should be on the durability and long life of the Tappan Zee Bridge. For this, they can rely on casting materials rather than solely depending on concrete alone. Engineers should also ensure reduced use of steel as it also contributes towards carbon footprint (McDonald, 2011).
As already discussed, the construction of the bridge would cause pollution to the ecological environment, as a result, the National Department of Transportation has advised to build the parts of the bridge at some remote location. By doing this, the constructors will have to transport the completed parts of the bridge to the construction site. At the same time, the constructors will be successful in avoiding any pollution caused by the construction of the bridge in or near the Hudson River. The material and machinery used for the construction of the Tappan Zee Bridge over the River Hudson should be in compliance with the Article 6.4 of the American Building Standards Authority. The material and machinery must get approval from the National Department of Transportation. Another component of the contract is that it is presented to the contractors or constructors of the bridge and should entail information pertaining to the usage of only American steel. It is essential to use only American steel as the article 23 CFR 635.410 of Buy America requires American constructors to use only American steel (Gale, 2008).
And ensure that the content used is of good quality, the National Department of Transportation should conduct sampling and testing of the construction material on a random basis throughout the period of construction (Konat et al., 2005). The construction firm is therefore expected to have assurances and promises as part of the normal trading procedure, according to the National Building Codes’ laws and regulations. The National Department of Transportation should also conduct plant inspections that will be helpful in ensuring the safety of the travelers using Tappan Zee Bridge (Canadian Consulting Engineer, 2011). Another major element that should be kept in mind is the non-usage of hazardous material in the construction of the bridge. The construction materials should be free of odor. If there are any hazardous materials used in the construction, it is the duty of the National Department of Transportation to force constructors to remove or dispose of these hazardous materials. Lastly, the National Department of Transportation should also ensure that the construction site and the actual site of the bridge are cleared with the leftover construction material and machinery within 2 weeks of the bridge’s inaugural.
In order to avoid any hindrance in the flow of traffic, a prefabricated bridge will be installed on the river. It is estimated that the installation of prefabricated bridge will help the administration of the Tappan Zee Bridge and the constructors to avoid losses of around $ 7 billion in wasted time and fuel resources. Moreover, the installation of the prefabricated bridge will also facilitate the transportation of construction material from the city to the river. Another benefit of installing prefabricated bridges will be that the trade between two cities on each of end of the Tappan Zee bridge will not be disrupted and loss of financial revenue will be averted (Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology, 2013).
Comparing the merits and demerits of constructing Tappan Zee Bridge over River Hudson, it can be inferred that the construction of this bridge is the need of time. Apart from the criticism this bridge will receive, it is clear that the construction of the bridge will solve numerous traveling problems of the habitants of Rockland and Westchester County. Additionally, the financial benefits as a result of increased trade can be used for the welfare of families and improving the academic landscape in both counties.
This construction of the Tappan Zee Bridge has addressed many issues that concerned the public and the NY state government, such as traffic and increased carbon footprint. However, these issues have been attended to by including the EPA and the National Department of Transportation by minimizing the use of hazardous materials and building parts of the bridge in remote locations.
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