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Construction Official: Build Tappan Zee Bridge Now

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – The window of opportunity to build a new Tappan Zee Bridge has arrived and the first step does not need to involve a mass-transit component, construction expert Ross Pepe told a group of realtors on Tuesday morning.

“We'd be back where we were last September after nine years—nowhere,” he said.

Pepe, the president and CEO of the Construction Industry Council of Westchester and Hudson Valley, spoke at a joint meeting of the Legislative Council of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors and the Commercial and Investment Division. Pepe is an advocate for the group .

Pepe and argue against comments from organizations such as the Tri-State Transportation Campaign that the new bridge must include mass-transit on the day it opens.

Two public hearings on the draft environmental impact statement for the proposed bridge will take place this week . A meeting will be held in West Nyack from 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the Palisades Center. A meeting will be held in Tarrytown from 4 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the Westchester Marriott.

Pepe said the first step in creating a mass-transit system between Rockland and Westchester counties is to build the bridge. Including a mass-transit component in the current bridge proposal would mean studying the entire I-87/I-287 corridor, Pepe said, which would put the state back where it was before the project was scaled back.

Pepe also praised the design-build process that will be used to build the new bridge, saying it will help keep costs within budget. Under the program, contractors submit bids for the project's design and construction at the same time instead of first submitting the design for approval and then submitting a construction bid.

Pepe disputed the idea that the new bridge project is similar to the I-287/Westchester Cross-County Parkway project, which had significant cost overruns.

“It's a completely different type of construction,” he said while noting that the I-287 project was not a design-build project and that “things changed as the project progressed.” Pepe said the bridge project's costs will be more controlled.

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