Gov. Andrew Cuomo says there’s no need to get nervous that a $2.9 billion federal loan for a new Tappan Zee Bridge has yet to be approved.
“We haven’t heard from them yet, but we haven’t heard any bad news either from them,” Cuomo told reporters in Rockland County today. “So we have our fingers crossed, but we still believe we are going to quality for a federal loan and that will be a significant addition to the funding.”
The state is seeking the loan to help cover the $3.9 billion project. How much the state gets will determine how much of a toll increase is expected on the new 3-mile bridge between Westchester and Rockland counties.
The state Comptroller’s Office last week criticized the Thruway Authority, which owns the bridge, for not having a “definitive” financing plan for the project.
Cuomo did not address tolls during his 45-minute speech or in his brief meeting with media, but he credited the state’s new design-build law for helping bring down the cost of the bridge. The law allows design and construction companies to work together from the start, and also holds them financially responsible for delays and cost overruns.
“We actually have acquired the bridge at about a billion dollars less than we thought we would have to pay,” Cuomo said. “So it’s been all good so far.”
The Thruway Authority last week borrowed $500 million to pay for the initial costs of the project, including the first payment to Tappan Zee Constructors, the joint venture that was awarded the $3.1 billion design-build contract. The Thruway intends to pay out $125 million this month alone.
Tappan Zee Constructors plans to begin collecting soil samples from the Hudson next month and install test piles in the middle of the river in June. Dredging to make way for heavy equipment and work areas will begin in early August.
During his presentation, Cuomo covered much of the same ground as in his State of the State address last month. The governor said the project to replace the 57-year-old Tappan Zee had also become a symbol of what government can accomplish when it is focused and united.