The state Thruway system is facing an “urgent financial need” without factoring in a $5 billion replacement to the Tappan Zee Bridge, according to a new report from a consultant hired by the Thruway Authority.
The report — released today to the Thruway Authority’s board before it began the process to increase commercial tolls — found that the authority’s capital plan for 2005 through 2011 was put in place without “adequate net revenues to support it,” and was then “financed heavily with debt.” That, along with the use of short-term debt to fund long-term assets and other “opaque and potentially risky” moves by past administrations, put the authority in a precarious financial position, according to the report.
The report was completed by Navigant Capital Advisors.
“In order to correct the mistakes of the past and secure the Authority’s future, the report recommends, and the Authority intends to follow through on, aggressive fiscal management reform paired with significant spending reductions,” Thruway Authority Chairman Howard Milstein said in a letter to the board. “These actions would be supplemented with a modest toll increase on high-axle commercial trucks to bring revenues generated from tolls on these trucks, which inflict far more damage to our roads than smaller trucks and passenger vehicles, in line with comparable and neighboring states.”
Here’s Milstein’s letter to the Thurway board, followed by a summary of the consultant’s findings: