EDITORIAL: Another Walkway? Sure!
A decade ago, it seemed almost inconceivable there would ever be a pathway over the Hudson River for the exclusive use of pedestrians and cyclists.
Now, gadzooks, there could be two!
In the latest suggestion of adaptive reuse of an outmoded bridge, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said the state is seriously considering turning the Tappan Zee Bridge into a recreational crossing.
Engineers have been warning for years that the existing structure must be replaced. The state at last seems ready to bite the bullet and is planning a new span estimated to cost $5.2 billion.
But what to do with the old bridge when the new one is completed? As it would cost an estimated $150 million to demolish the existing span, preservation is an attractive possibility.
The idea of preservation had gained some currency over the last five months or so, with town of Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner and Milagros Lecuona, a former White Plains councilwoman, leading the effort. (Their website actually credits the idea to Jean Schneider, of Tarrytown, who, in a letter to Gov. George Pataki on May 3, 2000, asked, “instead of demolishing the old one (Tappan Zee Bridge), would there be the wildest chance to keep the old bridge and make it a walking bridge?”)
Wildest chance, indeed. With Cuomo publicly embracing the idea, it’s suddenly gone from the realm of the wild-eyed dream to real possibility.
And that sounds a little familiar.
The idea of turning the abandoned Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge into a pedestrian walkway sounded implausible, at best, until some very dedicated people made the Walkway Over the Hudson happen in 2009. It quickly became an extraordinary success, a recreational magnet in all seasons.
Some fear the potential competition to our very own jewel. We say, the more, the merrier. Continued...
For one thing, a Tappan Zee walkway would be a very different experience.
As noted by reader Gail Whistance, of Rosendale: “The Walkway is an extraordinary experience due to its soaring height and the lack of (canopy) superstructure — it gives you that feeling of walking on air. The Tappan Zee has a completely different feel, being much closer to river level for most of its span. Also, the Walkway connects or will soon connect to miles of bicycle trails on either side of the river. Will the Tappan Zee offer that?”
Whistance thinks the differences could limit the appeal of a Tappan Zee walkway. In effect, not all crossings are created equal and we’re chauvinistic enough to think there’s simply no replicating the majesty of our Walkway, soaring 212 feet above the river surface.
But, that said, viva la difference and best of luck to advocates.
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