If you ask Al Samuels, the construction of a new Tappan Zee Bridge has already started.
"It's not about when we put a shovel in the ground," said Samuels, president of the Rockland Business Association, at a Wednesday morning press conference in Nyack. "The project has already begun, and money is already being spent."
Samuels, speaking from the overlooking the Hudson's banks, pointed behind him, where state barges are currently to prepare for a new span.
Samuels spoke on behalf of Build the Bridge Now, a coalition of Rockland business owners, construction leaders and others that seek to create a new crossing, and swiftly.
"Our mission is to make sure it continues," he said.
The $5.2 billion project encoutered a setback last week when —New York State was hoping for $2 billion in national aid, and will now have to wait on a shortlist until more transportation funds are approved.
"Frankly, I never expected this [TIFIA loan]," Samuels said, noting the state has yet to release a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and comprehensive design-build plan.
A new crossing's ability to stimulate commerce, bolster public safety and enhance national security , Samuels added.
Samuels was joined by local architects and merchants who also champion Build the Bridge Now's cause.
"We must get started now," said Jan Dergenshein, a 50-year Nyacker and president of Degenshein Architetcs. "We must do the project as quickly as we can."
"We need to do something before there is a tragedy," he added, touching on anxieties that .
Peter Kelly, a restaurateur who operates eateries in Rockland and Westchester, also noted the importance of a new bridge.
"I cross the bridge four times a day, and more often then not, there's a delay," he said. "I'm often late for work."
Kelly said the Tappan Zee Bridge is to blame for the lack of shoppers travelling from Westchester to Rockland, are vice versa.
Absent from this meeting, but not other, were critics of a new Tappan Zee Bridge. Last month, dozens of South Nyackers concerned about construction upsetting their quality of life .
At that same meeting, Riverkeeper—a non-profit that seeks to protect Hudson River wildlife— to waylay the project.
Residents are also upset over . Samuels says mass transit could materialize down the line, but first needs a new bridge on which it can be placed.