Riverkeeper Reaches Settlement Agreement with NY State (USA)

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that New York State has reached an agreement with Riverkeeper and Scenic Hudson on the terms of a critical New York State permit for construction of the new Tappan Zee Bridge.

This permit is one of the last certifications the state needs in order to move forward with construction, and a critical one as it sets out enforceable requirements for protecting water quality and vulnerable fish species like Atlantic Sturgeon in the Hudson.

Riverkeeper has been collaborating with partner organization Scenic Hudson and New York State to ensure that the new bridge is built with the least impacts to the river and its ecosystem as possible. In addition to incorporating Riverkeeper’s suggestions to strengthen the permit, there is a significant reduction in dredging and the use of smaller pilings making the project more environmentally-friendly. The DEC permit also contains $11.5 million of mitigation and restoration funding to protect the Hudson River and minimize environmental impacts from construction.

In addition, the state has agreed to give Riverkeeper and Scenic Hudson a seat at the table in monitoring the construction as the project moves forward.

Since Governor Cuomo announced plans to build a new Tappan Zee Bridge replacement in 2011, Riverkeeper has been a vocal advocate for a project that will best safeguard the Hudson River while providing communities with the transportation they need. The agreement announced today strikes the best possible deal for the river.

Key elements of the agreement include:

– DEC Clean Water Act permit that contains strict, publicly enforceable prohibitions against violations of water quality standards related to dredging and other in-river construction, requires an Independent Environmental Compliance Monitor, and establishes $10 million in funding for mitigation and restoration projects in the river, including; restoring oyster reefs, fish spawning habitat and tidal wetlands.

– Formal Memorandum of Understanding between Riverkeeper, Scenic Hudson, DEC and the NYS Thruway Authority, which commits Thruway to hold regular meetings and site visits with Riverkeeper during construction and mitigation planning, immediate notification when reports and monitoring data are prepared pursuant to the state permit, and an additional $1.5 million in mitigation funding for waterfront related improvements, such as restoring natural shorelines or acquiring land for parks in the communities affected by bridge construction.

Press Release, March 28, 2013

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