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State Senators Join Astorino On TZ Bridge Tour

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. — Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino’s calls for making the Tappan Zee Bridge a priority were echoed today by Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Sen. Chuck Fuschillo.

The Long Island senators visited the bridge Tuesday to survey its condition and offer their support to efforts to replace the aging bridge. Skelos (R-Nassau) said now is the time that the state needs to focus on its infrastructure.

“This bridge has to be replaced for safety purposes; this bridge has to be replaced for environmental purposes; and it has to be replaced for economical purposes,” Skelos said. “And that’s going to be our focus as we continue the legislative process.”

Notably missing from Tuesday’s bridge tour were any Westchester senators. Astorino said that Skelos and Fuschillo called his office to lend their support after he gave a speech at the Manhattan Institute. Skelos said that no one was specifically excluded or included.

After the press conference, Astorino stressed that this wasn’t a political day and that it wasn’t a Republican or Democratic problem. Skelos and Fuschillo, he noted, “can make things happen on a state level.”

The Tappan Zee Bridge was built in 1955. In its first year, the bridge had a daily average of 18,000 vehicles traveling on it, according to the New York State Thruway Authority. Today about 140,000 vehicles traverse the bridge; the number grows to 170,000 on weekends and holidays.

Plans have been proposed to replace the bridge, but there’s not a definitive timetable for the project because it’s still in the design and discussion phase, according to the Thruway Authority.

The bridge is owned by the Thruway Authority, but the Manhattan Transit Authority and the New York State Department of Transportation have been co-sponsoring a study of the bridge, according to the Thruway Authority.

The Westchester County Executive’s Office has little responsibility for the bridge, but Astorino said the bridge was a part of Westchester.

“If anything were to happen to this bridge, it would drastically affect Westchester County and so I think we’ve got to get the conversation going in a real way,” he said. “I’m confident that the governor understands this situation and will figure out a way to get it done.”

Fuschillo (R-L.I.),  who is chair of the senate transportation committee, noted that the state has more than 17,000 bridges, and about 5,000 of them have been declared deficient .

The Tappan Zee Bridge, Fuschillo emphasized, was safe for people to travel across each day.

“But why wait?” he asked.

Astorino echoed the senator’s concerns, saying he didn’t want the day to come when the bridge would have to be shut down because it was structurally unsound.

Astorino said he believes Governor Cuomo is the only one who can put everything in motion and get the bridge replacement started. The three politicians were on hand Tuesday to “spend some of our political capital to get this thing moving,” Astorino said.

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