Tappan Zee Bridge commuters have two options, state officials told the Journal News: Either see tolls rise on a new bridge or see tolls rise on the current bridge because of needed repairs.
Now the Journal News reports that the reason is simple: Either pay around $14 cash to cross a new, modern bridge or have a $12 cash toll and spend billions in the next few years to keep the current crossing from further deterioration.
Larry Schwartz, top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, said Thursday night in Rockland the state would have to spend $3 billion to $4 billion in the next decade to upgrade and repair the Tappan Zee Bridge, and most of that would have to be spent in the next few years.
That figure is new, so new that it’s not listed in the project’s just-released final environmental report.
“The (New York State Thruway Authority) estimates that it would spend $1.3 billion to maintain and repair the bridge over the next decade,” the report’s executive summary states. “Major work activities would include seismic upgrades to portions of the bridge, navigational safety improvements, steel and concrete repairs, and other miscellaneous work to continue to keep the bridge safe for the traveling public.”
The $1.3 billion number is also the one that the state has cited since October when the Obama administration fast-tracked the project and Cuomo made it a top priority. In recent weeks, the state has said it would have to spend up to $4 billion on the bridge over the next two decades — not in the next five years.
State Thruway officials told The Journal News today that the $1.3 billion figure refers to minimal repairs to keep the bridge functioning, while the $3 billion to $4 billion amount would include major structural renovations. The Journal News has requested further details from the state.
Officials announced Thursday night that commuters on a discount plan could pay around $8.40 to cross the three-mile span after it’s built, while vehicles with E-ZPass would pay $13.30 per trip. The increases nearly triple the rate drivers pay now to travel over the Tappan Zee Bridge.