Public hearing held on Tappan Zee plan

State officials held a public hearing tonight to discuss how a new Tapan Zee Bridge could impact the environment and community while meeting the needs of drivers.

The new bridge will be paid for in part by borrowing against future toll revenues and federal funds. The new estimated cost without mass transit is at $5.2 billion, but if train service is added, it could run as high as $21 billion.

Recommendations include two separate four-lane spans connecting Westchester and Rockland counties with wider shoulders to allow easier access to emergency vehicles. Also proposed were bicycle and walking paths to entice visitors to the Hudson Valley.

A recent report has labeled the aging bridge "fracture-critical." State Department of Transportation (DOT) officials, however, have stated that no one should panic over the label. The phrase is a standard industry term which means if a key support fails, the entire bridge could collapse.

According to the DOT, as long as proper inspections and maintenance are performed, a fracture-critical bridge is still considered structurally sound.

Officials added that there are thousands of bridges across the country with the same rating. Hudson Valley's Bear Mountain Bridge and the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge were also included on the list.

The news comes just a few weeks after President Barack Obama promised to expedite the replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge.

There will be a subsequent meeting on Thursday at the Palisades Center in West Nyack. The meeting will run from 4 p.m. - 9 p.m.

A final decision will be made in August of 2012. Debate swirls over Tappan Zee Bridge project Tappan Zee one of 14 projects to receive fast federal approval Drivers breathe sigh of relief as Tappan Zee plan is approved Tarrytown residents welcome Tappan Zee project Gov. Cuomo asks President Obama to expedite new Tappan Zee BridgeState lawmakers tour broken-down Tappan Zee BridgeGov.-elect Cuomo tours aging Tappan Zee Bridge

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