TARRYTOWN, N.Y. For the endangered Peregrine falcon, a new Tappan Zee Bridge means new accommodations and special treatment during the construction process.
State environmental officials have already begun preparing for the impacts of the proposed Tappan Zee Bridge on the surrounding river and bird wildlife. In addition to construction costs, state officials must spend an estimated $8 million to preserve and protect endangered species while building a new Tappan Zee Bridge, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has outlined in a draft work permit and the final environmental impact statement . State transportation officials said a new bridge won't negatively impact the surrounding environment.
Falcons have used a nesting box on the Tappan Zee Bridge for almost 20 years, and state officials said the new bridge must include another nesting box for the endangered species. Additionally, DEC officials said a construction buffer must take place around the old nesting box until the new box is ready to go so the falcons' habitat is not disturbed.
The DEC is also requiring a net conservation benefit to the shortnose and Atlantic sturgeon populations in the Hudson River. The Atlantic sturgeon was put on the Endangered Species Act list in January. To protect the fish, DEC officials are requiring bridge officials to map and document river habitats used by the endangered fish between the Troy Dam to the New York Harbor. Approximately 60 fish will be tagged and tracked, according to the DEC.
State officials must also coordinate dredging with the DEC to lessen damage to other river wildlife, tidal wetlands and the open water community. That includes creating a 13-acre oyster habitat following construction of a new bridge and restoring the wetlands and reducing invasive species in the Piermont Marsh.
Riverkeeper, an environmental advocacy group, said construction outlined in the final study, including pile driving, is estimated to kill as many as 141 Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon, which would deal an irreparable blow to the dwindling Atlantic sturgeon population.
Riverkeeper stands ready to work with New York State on a Tappan Zee Bridge project that is right for our region, one that abides by Governor (Andrew) Cuomos promise in 2010 to provide environmentally friendly public transportation and protection of our natural resources, the organization said. In the meantime, we will work to make sure that the needs of our river and the people living near it are met.