COEYMANS — In 2014 the company building the massive Tappan Zee Bridge project at the Port of Coeymans received a temporary permit to build four piers that enabled contractors to load huge pieces of the bridge onto barges in the Hudson River.
Now, Carver Companies, which owns the port, is looking to take over the permits and make them permanent.
The permit covers a straddle crane and assembly “sled” structures, which resemble piers.
Two of the piers, or trestles, reach more than 100 feet into the river while the other two extend more than 200 feet. Both sets are cemented into the riverbed. One pair is used to move large structures from the port onto barges in the river, while the other is used to transfer items from barges onto the port.
The temporary permit, which is held by Tappan Zee Constructors — the company that built the bridge — is set to expire at the end of 2019.
But port owner Carver Laraway is hoping to take over the permit and make it permanent, leaving the structures in place, according to Carver Companies’ general counsel George McHugh.
“Tappan Zee Constructors needed to build the infrastructure to move pieces onto barges,” McHugh said. “They went through the process and to get the permits in place quickly, they got a temporary permit.”
If the temporary permit were to expire without being made permanent, the trestles and cement piles would have to be torn out of the riverbed. McHugh contended that with more large-scale projects possibly coming to the Port of Coeymans, it would be more efficient and better for the environment — and the river itself — if the existing structures were left in place rather than tearing them out and later building new ones.
He pointed to possible future projects that could be undertaken at the port and cited a potential project that would construct windmills.
Carver Companies submitted its proposal to transfer the permit and make it permanent through the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
If the permit was allowed to expire and the structures removed, if another large-scale project came along it would all have to be done all over again. And McHugh said that would prove more damaging to the river, and the fish species that live there, than leaving the existing structures in place.
“Everything would have to be ripped out in 2019 and theoretically put back in when another project comes along,” McHugh said. “Ripping it out would disrupt the environment more than if we just left it in place.”
While Tappan Zee Constructors currently holds the temporary permit, it could be transferred to Carver Companies, but McHugh said the company would only do so if the permit was made permanent.
He added that the company was willing to fund the environmental studies that would be needed to grant the permit permanent status, and to take any mitigation measures deemed necessary.
Carver Companies has already submitted a 350-page proposal and has reached out to local stakeholders, such as the environmental group Scenic Hudson, the Center for Economic Growth and elected officials, McHugh said.
Assemblyman Chris Tague, who represents Coeymans, has penned a letter of support for the proposal.
“Allowing the Port of Coeymans to permanently retain the existing structures makes both environmental and economic sense for New York as the state continues to address its growing infrastructure needs,” Tague wrote in the letter to the DEC and the Army Corps of Engineers. “Beyond that, this location becomes even more desirable for future construction projects, creating additional jobs and further contributing to the economic vitality of the capital district region of New York State.”