Thruway Authority: Federal loan for TZ Bridge could be decided in 30-60 days

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The state Thruway Authority is hoping to know within 30 to 60 days if it will land a federal loan to help pay for a portion of the $3.9 billion new Tappan Zee Bridge, the authority’s executive director said today.

The Thruway Authority, owner of the new bridge over the Hudson River, is seeking a $1.5 billion loan from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The application process has been prolonged, however, and the Thruway Authority earlier this month borrowed $700 million to help with short-term financing for the bridge between Westchester and Rockland counties.

TZ constructionBut Thomas Madison, the Thruway Authority’s executive director, said he’s confident that many of the application hurdles have been overcome and that a decision will be coming shortly.

“We’re sincerely very optimistic. The talks are going very well with the folks in D.C.,” Madison told Gannett’s Albany Bureau after a news conference on the Thruway. “The time frames are now coming more clearly into focus. We think 30 to 60 days we should be in a place where we have some real certainty and we are able to finalize our financial plan.”

Standard & Poor’s recently indicated that the Thruway is hoping to finalize its financial plan next month, dealing with not only how to pay for the bridge but the authority’s long-term strategy to deal with growing costs to run the nearly 500-mile Thruway and its canal system. The Thruway hasn’t indicated the new toll structure for the Tappan Zee Bridge.

The loan through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program is important, Thruway officials have said. The state would get a lower interest rate than if it borrowed the money for the massive project.

Construction is already underway on the bridge, which is among the largest construction projects in the country.

Madison said the Thruway would finance the bridge if the federal loan didn’t come through.

“This bridge is moving forward. You can see the construction process underway,” Madison said. “And even if for some reason the TIFIA were not to materialize, the project is moving forward. The project will be financed by the Thruway Authority, just like this is a loan, this TIFIA loan, will ultimately have to be paid back by toll-backed Thruway bonds.”

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