Tappan Zee Bridge park idea is visionary
Can anyone think of a better way to spend $150 million than tearing down the Tappan Zee Bridge?
We sure can. That's why it's exciting to hear that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has ordered a review of whether the existing bridge can serve as a trans-Hudson park once a new Tappen Zee is built.
It's not so far-fetched. When an old elevated rail line in lower Manhattan was turned into a park called the High Line, it was an immediate success and draws visitors from all over the world.
An even better precedent is Walkway Over the Hudson, a disused railroad bridge that crosses the Hudson at Poughkeepsie and became a park in 2009. A recent economic impact analysis found that the span-turned-park draws 500,000 people a year, half of them from outside Dutchess and Ulster counties. The result? Nearly $24 million in new sales in the two counties, and 383 new jobs.
Such analyses should always be taken with a grain of salt; this one was commissioned by a foundation that helped fund Walkway. Nonetheless, the popularity of such parks is undeniable, even if they never produce a dime in economic activity. High Line-type projects are under consideration or in the planning stages in several cities around the world.
A Tappan Zee park would offer 30 acres of recreation suspended over one of the world's most beautiful rivers -- with views of New York City. It would cost something, sure. But why spend $150 million to knock this little bit of heaven out of the air?