• Tappan Zee Bridge Environmental Impact Hearing: Bill Mooney's Testimony

  • MARCH 01, 2012 | ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORTATION

  • Economic realities, aesthetic appeal, and privatization options are key to a successful replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge, Mooney points out

  • The following is the prepared testimony of Bill Mooney, President of the Westchester County Association, presented at tonight's Tappan Zee Bridge Environmental Impact Hearing at the Westchester Marriott in Tarrytown...


    Eastbound on the Tappan Zee Bridge

    Good evening. I am Bill Mooney, President of The Westchester County Association. The Westchester County Association is the leading business organization in Westchester, fostering economic growth through public policy, advocacy, and access. Our membership is comprised of most of the major multinationals as well as middle market companies and a large number of professional and entrepreneurial businesses. 

    I appreciate the opportunity to speak here this afternoon and would like to take a few moments to focus on three key issues relative to the rebuilding of the Tappan Zee Bridge: 

    1. Economic Realities
    2. Aesthetic appeal
    3. Privatization options 

    1. Economic Realities: While we testified at the scoping hearing last October about the need to include mass transit as part of the new bridge, the economic realities are such that we may have to sacrifice the perfect to avoid the disastrous. The requirement to have mass transit in place on the bridge from its first day of operation will only serve to delay the environmental review process, and therefore the bridge construction, for many years. This puts the safety of those 150,000 plus daily commuters who depend on the bridge to work and live in jeopardy. In the design and building of the new bridge, I am confident that the foundations to accommodate future mass transit will be incorporated. 

    In addition to the safety issue, we cannot lose sight of the economic development benefits that will accrue. Not only will we see the creation of thousands of jobs for the local construction industry -- which has been suffering from 25% unemployment --the boon to local vendors, service providers, etc. will be enormous. And the opportunity cost we face every day from businesses that may decide not to locate or expand in our region because of outdated infrastructure, cannot be over looked.

    2. Aesthetic appeal:  One other element that should be a part of the selection of the candidate who will design and build the bridge is the architectural and aesthetic component of the design. While we are, of course, supportive of a safer replacement bridge with modern options for moving our region's workforce and goods, we are also calling for a bridge that can serve as an icon for our region. It has to look good too!

    3. Privatization:  As I have stated in the past, I believe it is important to look into all of the options for funding the new Tappan Zee bridge project. Privatization of bridges, roads, and other infrastructure has been successfully accomplished elsewhere in the USA -- in Illinois, Hawaii, Indiana – and internationally in many countries. There are private equity partners here and abroad with plenty of liquidity and the time is right to foster a partnership with them and others, such as public sector pension funds, to create a long-term solution for the Tappan Zee Bridge and I urge that all of these be considered.

    Thank you.