Video footage from Wednesday’s “Replacing The Tappan Zee Bridge” event is up. Speakers and panelists discussed why New York needs a new bridge — the three-plus-mile span crosses the Hudson between Rockland and Westchester — and how to build it.

screen-shot-2011-06-24-at-13657-pm-3782502One of the most telling comments came from Christopher Waite, former chief engineer of the Thruway Authority, which owns the bridge.

About 1 hour and 31 minutes (and 35 seconds or so) in, Waite notes that “we can’t still be debating this with the bridge closed. It’s essential that something happen.”

What’s Waite talking about? I wrote in my spring City Journal article that as the Tappan Zee continues to deteriorate, one big risk is:

If inspectors decided that a critical component of the bridge was unsafe … the Department of Transportation could shut the span down without warning during one afternoon commute. That’s exactly what the department did in autumn 2009, closing an 80-year-old bridge over Lake Champlain in upstate New York. Despite 20 years’ worth of extensive repairs, including a deck replacement, the cracked [upstate] bridge was unsalvageable; the state blew it up that December. Drivers won’t have a replacement until the end of this year, at the earliest.

Knock the far busier Tappan Zee out, and the economic impact would be much larger. The bridge handles 22 percent of the 233 million vehicles that cross the Hudson River downstate each year. The nearest bridge to the north is 29 miles distant, and its connecting roads can’t handle heavy traffic. The Tappan Zee’s drivers, then, would further clog the already-jammed George Washington Bridge, 24 miles to the south, as well as the Lincoln Tunnel and the Holland Tunnel.

Keep listening to Waite’s remarks (after E.J.’s question) to learn what he would build, including space for freight rail.

About the Author

E.J. McMahon

Edmund J. McMahon is Empire Center's founder and a senior fellow.

Read more by E.J. McMahon

You may also like

82 Questions Hochul’s Pandemic Report Should Answer

This is the month when New Yorkers are due to finally receive an official report on the state's response to the Covid-19 pandemic, one of the deadliest disasters in state history. T Read More

New Jersey’s Pandemic Report Shines Harsh Light on a New York Scandal

A recently published independent review of New Jersey's pandemic response holds lessons for New York on at least two levels. First, it marked the only serious attempt by any state t Read More

Hochul’s ‘Straight Talk’ on Medicaid Isn’t Straight Enough

Arguably the biggest Medicaid news in Governor Hochul's budget presentation was about the current fiscal year, not the next one: The state-run health plan is running substantially over budget. Read More

DeRosa Is Still Hiding the Truth About Cuomo’s Pandemic Response

As the long-time top aide to former Governor Andrew Cuomo, Melissa DeRosa ought to have useful information to share about the state's pandemic response – especially about what went wrong and how the state could be better Read More

One Brooklyn Health’s Money Troubles Raise a Billion-Dollar Question

A brewing fiscal crisis at One Brooklyn Health, which has received more than $1 billion in turnaround funding from the state, raises the question of whether that money has been well spent. Read More

Beware of Medicaid’s Spending Swings

The state's Medicaid spending is becoming increasingly volatile from month to mo Read More

Emails Confirm That Cuomo’s Staff Launched Its ‘Book’ Project in March 2020

A pair of state-employed writers began researching, outlining and drafting a book about Governor Andrew Cuomo's pandemic response in late March 2020, weeks before New York's harrowing first wave had passed, according to newly disclosed email records. Read More

A Politically Active Medical Group Gains Access to Funds for ‘Distressed’ Providers

A politically connected medical group in the Bronx garnered an unusual benefit in the new state budget – access to money previously reserved for financially troubled safety-net hospitals and nursing homes. Read More