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Unpermitted Work Shutters Bridge Site

Monday, September 15, 2014

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A staging area for New York City’s Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project has been shut down after an environmental group reported construction underway without proper permitting.

According to Riverkeeper, Tappan Zee Constructors LLC, the contractor for the new bridge, started on the sub-assembly staging area at the Port of Coeymans although the necessary permits were still under review by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

The Port of Coeymans, just south of Albany, will be used to preassemble structural girders.

Tappan Zee Bridge

Environmental group Riverkeeper said it discovered unpermitted construction work at a Tappan Zee Bridge prep site. The NY Department of Environmental Conservation has shut down the site.

"The unpermitted and illegal construction included what appeared to be foundational work for the on-land portions of the trestle piers that are proposed to extend over 100 feet into the Hudson River," according to Riverkeeper.

'Illegal Construction Activities'

Riverkeeper said it had reported alleged "illegal construction activities" to the DEC, which then visited the site and immediately ordered the contractor to stop work.

DEC also started an investigation and indicated that construction would not resume until proper permits are issued.

Riverkeeper previously filed comments challenging the DEC's decision not to conduct an environmental review of the Port of Coeymans Tappan Zee Bridge staging area project, south of Albany.

In August, the DEC determined that no further environmental review was needed for the staging area and issued a "Negative Declaration."

However, Riverkeeper contends that the project will result in "significant environmental impacts to the Hudson River and surrounding communities." The Coeymans project is situated across the river and next to two state designated habitat areas that support "numerous fish and bird species, including endangered sturgeon," the group says.

"DEC continues to investigate the situation and will determine appropriate action," Peter Constantakes, DEC spokesman, told

Environmental Issues

"Riverkeeper commends DEC staff for taking action to stop this rushed construction job from going foward without the required permits," said Philip Musegaas, Hudson River Program Director at Riverkeeper.

Port of Coeymans

The project's contractor, Tappan Zee Constructors, previously accused Riverkeeper of attempting to "greatly magnify ... insignificant environmental effects" at the Port of Coeymans.

"At the same time, this highlights the critical need for DEC to require a full environmental review of this project prior to issuing any permits.

"It's undisputed that the Coeymans TZB Staging Area is inherently connected to the larger bridge construction project happening downriver, and must be held to the same level of environmental review and strict permit requirements as the bridge replacement itself," said Musegaas.

According to TZC, "Riverkeeper attempts to greatly magnify the Coeymans project's insignificant environmental effects by belatedly claiming that Coeymans is part of the New NY Bridge project, for which the [New York State Environmental Quality Review Act] review has already been completed.

"Simply put, Coeymans and the New NY Bridge are different projects, and Riverkeeper's repeated assertions to the contrary do not change that."

The public comment period for the Port of Coeymans project has been extended until Sept. 18.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Construction; Contractors; Enforcement; Environmental Protection; North America; Prefabrication; Program/Project Management

Comment from Mike McCloud, (9/15/2014, 6:28 AM)

Just another big waste of our money.

Comment from Karen Fischer, (9/15/2014, 9:49 AM)

Environmental groups have their place, but clearly, this is just going to increase the cost of construction and delay everything.

Comment from M. Halliwell, (9/15/2014, 10:42 AM)

Although I agree that this will up the cost and delay the project, the one to blame is the contractor. You don't start a project until you have ALL your permits...period. Doesn't matter whether it is the development permit, building permit or some form of environmental sign-off. When it comes to contentious and very public projects where you'll be under intense scrutiny, it's doubly important. I don't know who made the decision to proceed at Tappan Zee, but it was the wrong choice.

Comment from Chuck Pease, (9/18/2014, 10:01 PM)

@ M Halliwell Well said sir. and your quote. "You don't start a project until you have ALL your permits...period. Doesn't matter whether it is the development permit, building permit or some form of environmental sign-off." You would have thought the estimating team would have researched this closer to anaylze all of the risks associated with this type of project. Probaly toss the plans up a few times catching and weighing their weight, then threw a shotgun number out the door undercutting the engineers estimate by a skosh

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