About 1,000 tons of material from the Tappan Zee Bridge started a new job May 31 as host to an artificial reef off the coast of Long Island.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, D-N.Y., traveled to Shinnecock Inlet off Hampton Bays Thursday and watched from a chartered fishing boat as barges and tugboats transported the materials to the site of the first expanded artificial reef.
The ceremony kicked off what will be the largest expansion of artificial reefs in New York State’s history.
The plan is to deploy recycled materials from the former Tappan Zee Bridge, along with those of tug boats, barges and other boats, to support development of six artificial reefs off Long Island.
A total of 43,200 cubic yards of cleaned and recycled Tappan Zee Bridge material, 338 cubic yards of steel pipe from the state Department of Transportation and 5,900 cubic yards of jetty rock will be submerged and added to six reef sites as part of the initiative’s first phase.
The reefs will be created at sites off the shores of Smithtown, Shinnecock, Moriches, Fire Island, Hempstead and Rockaway.
State officials expect that the materials, once settled, will attract blackfish, cod, striped bass and other large fish species. The fish will build habitats within the new structures, and encrusting organisms such as barnacles, sponges, corals and mussels will cover the material. Eventually, according to Cuomo’s initial announcement, the structures will create habitat similar to a natural reef.
“(When) you create an artificial reef, what you’re doing is creating a habitat for the fishery,” Cuomo said before the first materials were dropped, according to a rush transcript. “It increases fishing for recreational fishermen, for mercantile fishermen, (and) it opens up a whole new industry of diving and the tourism-related activities that go with diving.”
Other parts of the Tappan Zee have been sent to neighboring counties for public works projects. Orange County became the first municipality to take advantage when it received 14 former bridge panels at the beginning of May, which officials said will be used to build four highway bridges and two rail-to-trail bridges.