“Big, Bold and Beautiful,” but not Paid-for

An animation of the new Tappan Zee Bridge was unveiled earlier this week. | Image: New York State

An animation of the new Tappan Zee Bridge was unveiled earlier this week. | Image: New York State

On Monday, the New York State Thruway Authority hosted a panel in Tarrytown to introduce the members of the Tappan Zee Constructors team that will build the new Tappan Zee Bridge. The event included a presentation and  a video fly-through of the new spans. The video reiterates the same points Tri-State has been questioning for over a year: claims that the bridge will accommodate future transit and alleviate traffic by reducing crashes (the State still has not addressed these concerns).

According to Brian Conybeare, Governor Cuomo’s special advisor for the project, there are many more months of design work to be done before construction begins, which allows time for the State to come up with a financing plan. Although it’s “big, bold and beautiful,” as Governor Cuomo contends in the video, the bridge is also not paid-for.

As Tri-State has pointed out, moving the ball forward on such an expensive project without a financial plan is a serious problem for bridge users who know toll increases are needed to cover the costs of the project, but still don’t know how high the toll increases will be.

It is also a concern to transit advocates and other New York residents because the State might shortchange other transportation projects in order to cover project costs. Streetsblog recently highlighted that “$720 million in new capital funding for ‘transformative’ projects over the next few years” in the Governor’s executive budget might be used for the Tappan Zee rebuild project.

The Tappan Zee Bridge is a critical link for the region. But diverting funds from a transit system that supports 8,000,000 trips per day to a project that supports 100,000 vehicle trips is the antithesis of fiscal efficiency and environmental sustainability.

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