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Environmental Group Riverkeeper Objects To New Tappan Zee Bridge Plan

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The environmental group Riverkeeper is asking New York State to reconsider its plan for a new Tappan Zee Bridge.

Riverkeeper says the bridge would damage the Hudson River's ecosystem. It also says the bridge will be immediately obsolete because it will not include mass transit.

The new Tappan Zee would be two spans replacing the aging, overcrowded bridge. Officials have said the $5.2 billion bridge will be built in a way so that mass transit could be added in the future.

But Riverkeeper says the state should look again at the mass transit possibilities. It also wants the state to consider alternatives it has already dismissed. Those include rehabilitating the current bridge or building a tunnel instead of a bridge.

Commenting on the project's tentative environmental review, Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay said the state had dismissed several options without sufficient public comment.

"They threw them all out except one and said, 'You're getting this bridge and you'll like it,''' Gallay said.

Riverkeeper noted that the state was already doing tests in the riverbed before the commenting period had expired.

"Governor Cuomo and the state agencies involved have been pushing their plan forward at breakneck speed,'' the group said. "They have also made every effort to marginalize the public and shield themselves from public accountability, by giving the public only 60 days to weigh in on the largest public works/engineering project in the Hudson Valley's recent history.''

The group said the state has not adequately studied the impact of dredging and pile-driving on Hudson River denizens, including the endangered Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon.

Arguing for keeping the current bridge, it said the state-chosen alternative involves bridge towers twice the height of the current bridge and "would mar the beauty of the Hudson Valley for generations.''

In January, the state released its environmental impact statement which found that building a new bridge would not increase pollution to the Hudson River and found air quality might improve because of better traffic flow.

The report also said the project would have little effect on most creatures in the water, on the land or in the air.

A spokesman for the state Thruway Authority, which is leading the project, says the agency may comment later.

The current plan is to have the new Tappan Zee Bridge up and running in about five years.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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