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Mario Cuomo Bridge

Wanna Buy Our Bridge?

Next week’s new TZB meeting at RCC will surely cover the $16B question: how to pay for it all. There’s one plan making the rounds which attempts to make it someone else’s problem.

The New York Post advocates leasing the building and maintenance to a private firm. Chicago’s Richard Daley followed this route for several major infrastructure projects, reducing the city’s debt and raising its credit rating.

Take the Tappan Zee Bridge. Substandard and falling apart, it’s a poster child for our crumbling infrastructure. There’s a $6.4 billion plan to replace the bridge, but the state doesn’t have the money.

The private sector could finance some (perhaps all) of the new bridge as part of a 50-to-99-year lease deal. The state would own the bridge, but a company would pay to build, operate and maintain it – making its money back by charging tolls over the life of the lease.

There’s alot more to learn and more than a few skeptics to convince. “I think what you have to do is avoid a fire sale of state assets, whether you call it a sale or a 99-year lease,” Democratic Assemblyman Richard Brodsky of Westchester told salon.com. NY Governor Paterson has asked for a report on the possibilities due on his desk by the start of the 2009 budget process.

Sources: New York Post, salon.com, reason.org




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