TARRYTOWN, N.Y. – Construction of a new Tappan Zee Bridge is getting closer, but several more things need to take place before the new bridge is built.
The Federal Highway Administration issued a record of decision in the project Tuesday, ending the environmental review process and making the bridge eligible for federal funding. Officials still have to present a financial plan and pick a winning bidder before construction begins.
"With this major milestone, New York once again is demonstrating that we can make government work efficiently and effectively for the people of the state, and we can take a large step toward building a safer, better and more reliable bridge,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.
State officials want to build twin structures about 300 north of the existing bridge.
State officials have not released a plan to pay for the new Tappan Zee Bridge, although Tappan Zee Bridge advisor Brian Conybeare outlined several financial options during a recent community meeting at the Tarrytown Senior Center.
The state will go after several federal funds, including a $2.9 federal transportation loan that could pay for a third of the cost of the bridge, Conybeare said.
Officials also plan to apply for funding from a $500 million federal transportation grant fund, and pursue money from $473 million in leftover federal earmarks that could be recycled to the bridge project, Conybeare said.
The New York State Thruway Authority also plans to sell bonds, Conybeare said. The 30-year bonds sold at 4.2 percent in June, Conybeare said.
Officials have said tolls will also be used to pay for the new bridge. The New York State Thruway Authority estimated in early August a $14 toll , with commuters paying $8.40 to cross the bridge. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said the proposed toll is too high .
Selecting a Design
A selection team is reviewing three bids submitted in July by international design-build teams . The New York State Thruway received more than 70 boxes of documents totaling 750,000 pages of designs for a new Tappan Zee Bridge.
The selection team will make a final recommendation to the New York State Thruway Authority, which makes the final approval. State officials are also negotiating the costs and calendar in each bid, Conybeare said.
The state estimated the selection review would take four weeks. Conybeare noted plans are in the works to let the public see the submitted designs, although he said officials had to make sure they complied with procurement laws.
Construction on the new bridge could begin in mid-2013, state officials said. Officials estimate it will take between four-and-a-half to five-and-a-half years to build the new bridge, although most of the bridge will be prefabricated and brought to the site on barges. Foundation work, including pile driving, will take a year-and-a-half.
Demolition of the old bridge would take place after the new bridge is built.
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