Old Tappan Zee Bridge to become artificial reefs

The old Tappan Zee Bridge will have a second life helping marine life in the waters off Long Island.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that pieces of the bridge will soon serve as artificial reefs. He called repurposing the bridge an "all-around win" for environmental sustainability, economic development, and environmental protection.

The reef expansion project, scheduled to start in May, will also include decommissioned vessels, steel pipes, and jetty rocks. All of the materials will be cleaned of harmful waste and approved by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Six of the existing 12 sites—Rockaway, Hempstead, Fire Island, Moriches, Shinnecock in the Atlantic Ocean and Smithtown in the Long Island Sound—are slated to be finished by the end of the summer.

The Hempstead reef, just over three miles from the shore and 50 to 72 feet underwater, is expected to be one of the largest with 12 barges of material.

Citizens Campaign for the Environment Executive Director Adrienne Esposito said the project will create new places for finfish, shellfish, and seagrass.

Transporting the materials will cost about $5 million but Cuomo said repurposing is better than disposal because it will foster much-needed marine growth.

Some recreational and commercial fisherman told Fox 5 they hope the reefs will be a boost to the economy.

But not everyone is in favor of the project. Daniel Rodgers heads a group called New York Fish. He said the governor should focus on fighting the state's share of the federal quota system. Rodgers said the debris pollutes the environment and takes years to become artificial reefs.

Work on expanding the other six reefs could begin in spring 2019.