Everyone has questions about the new bridge that is scheduled to open in 2018.
“When will the new bridge be finished?” “How many lanes will it have?” “What will happen to the old bridge?” are most often-asked questions at Thruway Authority’s Community Outreach Centers, which opened February 2013 in Westchester and Rockland to engage the public and promote the project.
While the Westchester site got off to a slow start in its 303 S. Broadway (Tarrytown) office park setting, project officials noted a whopping 62 percent increase in foot traffic after it relocated to 2 N. Broadway.
They reported 458 visitors at the new location between May 1 (opening date) and July 16 — nearly two-thirds of Westchester’s 738 recorded total visits; the Rockland site at 142 Main St. in Nyack drew 1,840 people since day one. “The move to the new location in downtown Tarrytown has helped more people become actively engaged in learning about this historic project,” special project advisor Brian Conybeare affirmed. “We welcome the increased interest in the Westchester Outreach Center and encourage everyone to stop by to and ask questions.”Mention the bridge, and a knee-jerk reaction is a comment about tolls. “I heard they’re going to $15,” Stuart Bailey commented. “I work in Rockland, and I can’t see paying that much every day.”
Both Centers are open seven days a week, Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., to accommodate various schedules. Each has current newsletters and information, including the new safety zone and an expanded Regulated Navigation Area (RNA), a large-screen computer for viewing the project website, and models of the new bridge and the I Lift NY super crane.
Its five interns, on rotating shifts, and five full-time employees aim to educate and inform. During the past months, outreach staff has been dispensing information about boater safety to marinas and boat clubs in Westchester and Rockland.
Tarrytown resident Pamela Bennett Louis plans to stop by in the near future. “I haven’t followed the project other than knowing first-hand about bridge traffic,” she said. Louis would like to learn more “about a project that so directly affects our town. Perhaps some basic knowledge about the bridge construction will help us to intelligently follow its progress.”
While the staff is well-versed in project details, sometimes an answer isn’t readily available — yet no question goes without reply. Whoever is at the center that day will take the visitor’s name and number, consult with project officials, and call the person requesting the information within 24 hours.
Answers to questions most often asked are: the new twin-span bridge will be completed by 2018, with eight traffic lanes (four in each direction); the current bridge will be taken apart in segments, as it was built. The 6’ and 4’ pilings that catch your eye are the same ones used for the new bridge’s foundation.
Places for photo ops are in front of the colorful K’NEX model or the LEGO® bridge at the 2 North Broadway office, or at the I Lift NY super crane. Community Outreach is about making connections with schools, civic organizations, business groups, museums, colleges and universities, and project officials said a sizeable number of requests for presentations led to such associations.
If you’d like the Outreach Team to talk with your group or school, click “Contact Us” on the http://www.newnybridge.com/ website.
Written by Janie Rosman