When talk of converting New York's Tappan Zee Bridge into a park gained momentum earlier this year, it sparked considerable public interest. Conceptual sketches of what the park might look like have already been presented by a number of interested parties, including the Tappan Bridge Park Alliance, a student workshop at Cooper Union in Manhattan, and graduate students at Columbia University.
But the project faces daunting financial hurdles, not the least of which is that the bridge, already six years past its projected lifespan, "has serious long-term structural and seismic concerns, including the threat of marine borers eating into the underwater wooden pilings that support the bridge," Applebome explains.
Even without vehicular traffic, the added weight of landscaping and foot traffic means the structure "would need systematic and regular maintenance, and, boy, is that expensive," said Henry J. Stanton, a former executive director of the New York State Bridge Authority.
Still, project advocates are hopeful in spite of the obstacles. "It took almost 20 years to bring Walkway Over the Hudson from outlandish idea to remarkable reality," writes Applebome. "The High Line was initially dismissed as utterly impractical. And unlike those two, the Tappan Zee already exists in usable form, waiting, advocates say, to be transformed."