Cuomo pressed on Tappan Zee during stop in New Rochelle

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During a stop today in his home county, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was pressed by reporters on the Tappan Zee Bridge and just how the state plans on coming up with the estimated $5 billion to pay for a replacement.

Cuomo delivered remarks today at the College of New Rochelle, pushing his legislation to reform the state’s care-system for the developmentally disabled and create a new agency with prosecuting authority over abuses.

He spoke with reporters briefly following the speech, when he was peppered with questions on the Tappan Zee project.

“We have to replace the bridge. We’ve had to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge for many, many years,” he said. “We’ve been talking about replacing it for decades. And it has to be done now.”

When asked how the state plans on coming up with the money, Cuomo said the state Thruway Authority is looking at “a number of financing options.”

He said:

“Well, there’s a number of avenues, right? The federal government might provide us with a loan. The state isn’t rolling in dough, but we have money too. The state can take a loan. But it’s one of those things that has to be done. Everybody has these (issues) in their own lives in their own home. The state, we operate bridges. We want them safe. And they have to keep up with the times. This, again, is a project that has been talked about for decades, and we’ve never been able to do it. And one of the things I’m trying to do is bring confidence back to government. This should have been done 20 years ago; it’s going to be done now.”

A major wildcard, according to Cuomo, is the cost of the bridge. The state rolled out an initial estimate of $5.2 billion, but bids for the project are slated to be returned in July. Yesterday, Thruway Authority executive director Thomas Madison said he is “hopeful” the bids may come in lower than the original estimate, which he said was a placeholder, more or less.

Cuomo was also asked about noise complaints coming from the current Tappan Zee site, where soil sampling and other pre-construction work is already underway.

“We’re working with the community to do everything we can when it comes to noise and everything else that’s going to go on with the construction. There will be trucks coming. There will be crews working, and we’re going to do everything we can to make it better and easier for the community. But at the end of the day, we’re building a bridge. And there is going to be some noise, and there is going to be activity. It’s a large undertaking. I understand it. I understand the discomfort the volume of activity may bring, but it goes with building a bridge. So we need a little understanding of the activity, but we’ll do everything we can within reason to work with the local community.”

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