TARRYTOWN, N.Y. – The sale of $500 million in New York State Thruway Authority bonds to help pay for initial costs of the new Tappan Zee Bridge was approved Thursday by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.
DiNapoli's office also told the Thruway Authority in a letter that it needed to be more transparent with the public about the project's financial plan and potential toll increases.
“The Authority has a duty to provide full, timely and public disclosure regarding its capital plan, including costs associated with the project,” Deputy Comptroller Pete Grannis said. “The Authority must be forthright with the public on the overall impact these costs may have on tolls that Thruway customers will shoulder.”
The state plans to build a $3.9 billion bridge about 300 feet north of the existing span. The new bridge will include two parallel spans, each with four lanes of traffic and two emergency lanes. The northern span will include a pedestrian path.
Officials say the northern span will be completed in 2016, with demolition of the old bridge and construction of the southern span finished in 2018.
The funds from the bonds will be used to help pay a required mobilization payment of about $125 million this month, officials said, and the Thruway Authority reserved an option to increase the bond sale by $200 million.
The comptroller's office gave approval in a letter to the Thruway Authority, but also noted they have yet to issue a financial plan for the bridge project. The Thruway Authority is waiting to hear about a federal transportation loan that will pay a bulk of the costs.
“The Authority has indicated that the U.S. Department of Transportation approval for a TIFIA loan is likely,” Pete Grannis said. “However, there continues to be uncertainty surrounding the final outcome and timing of this decision, which is critical to determining the financing plan of the project as well as the Authority's capital program.”