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Riverkeeper: New TZB is 'On the Cheap'

Environmental agency urges feds to include mass transit.

The 's lack of mass transit has already upset a number of Rivertown residents, but the decision has also raised the ire of Riverkeeper, a watchdog group that preserves the Hudson River's ecology and drinking water.

Riverkeeper officials noted a lack of train and bus infrastructure—a move that cuts the span's cost by over $10 billion—will inevitably lead to more cars and pollution. The new crossing, expected to be complete by 2017, will also expand to include eight traffic lanes.

"Why are the lead state and federal agencies even bothering with an environmental impact analysis, when they've already decided what they're going to do: build an on-the-cheap, no-mass-transit bridge that does unnecessary damage to the Hudson River and nothing to help with traffic congestion or reducing carbon?" said Paul Gallay, president of Riverkeeper.

Gallay submit the group's complaints and suggestions to the New York State Department of Transportation, and also asked that Riverkeeper be involved in the decision making process.

"Before committing scarce public dollars, our officials need to study alternatives that harm the river less and actually do something to bring our transportation system into the 21st century," Gallay added.

Currently, the bridge's project team is carrying out a "detailed analysis of the environmental impact of the bridge, transit and highway improvements," and plans to release the findings, or the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), in the coming months. Readers can stay posted here.

In a scoping document detailing the project, officials added that law makers, civic groups and members of the public will have a chance to discuss and contest DEIS findings.

Riverkeeper has more than one issue regarding the project, however; the watchdog group is also concerned about how the bridge will affect surrounding communities. Further, Gallay and his colleagues believe the public is not being granted sufficient input, and that other options, like a , were not studied in-depth.

"They haven't shown why a new bridge is better than refurbishing the old one," Gallay said.

Riverkeeper has teamed up with Pace Law School's Environmental Litigation Clinic when submitting comments, and released a statement noting they plan to keep close watch over the project.

"We want the public to have alternatives that public officials explain to us," Gallay added. "It's not a choice when you only give someone one alternative."

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