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Mario Cuomo Bridge

TZB New (Bridge) Math

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by Janie Rosman

Math and I get along well on an as-needed basis – balancing my checkbook, paying monthly bills within a limited budget and income, etc. I shop with a dollar amount in mind and try to find something within that amount. There are times, though, when I do use my credit card – for example, car repairs, or a new digital camera – and pay the balance during the ensuing months.

Which brings me to New York State and how it plans to pay for the new Tappan Zee Bridge.

The project is estimated at $3.9 billion with a planned a $1.5 billion TIFIA loan from the Federal Highway Administration. New York State could, and did, apply for up to 49% of the project’s eligible costs, potentially up to $2 billion. New York’s T(ransportation) I(nfrastructure) F(inance) and I(nnovation) A(ct) loan application is undergoing a creditworthiness review by an independent financial adviser hired by the US Department of Transportation.

Project cost shares eligible for TIFIA coverage were previously limited to 33%, according to Federal Highway Administration spokeswoman Nancy Singer. If the bridge replacement project is being advanced through the review process based on that percentage, then one third of of $3.9 billion is $1.287 billion. For those of you who dropped your #2 pencils two paragraphs ago, the $1.287 billion we might get is less than $1.5 billion we actually need.

The NYS Thruway Authority needs to find alternate sources of revenue (translated: new money) to pay for the new bridge. Here’s one idea: let’s make those who use the bridge most, and create the most wear-and-tear on it, pay a little bit more. I’ve attended the past three Mass Transit Task Force meetings and have heard nothing about commercial vehicles using the bridge.

There’s no question that the nation’s trucking industry depends on the NYS Thruway to move goods and products from East to West. The Tappan Zee Bridge is a critical link in that transportation chain. In Westchester County, the Thruway connects the Connecticut Turnpike at the terminus of its New England Section (I-95) in Port Chester. In Rockland County, Interstate 287 near Suffern connects with major highways in New Jersey, including the truck-free Garden State Parkway.

Thank you, Governor Andrew Cuomo, for suggesting that residents of these two counties, whether or not they commute daily, receive fare discounts. While the 45% toll hike for trucks won’t happen on the 570-mile Thruway, I feel commercial vehicles deserve to pay more – at least on the new bridge.

Reporter Janie Rosman has been published in The Hudson Independent, Ulster Publishing, Poughkeepsie Journal, Patch Media, The Journal News, Westchester Parent, and Westchester Commerce Magazine. She blogs about the Tappan Zee Bridge and other things at nykeypad.wordpress.com.

Photo Credit: Tappan Zee Bridge from Tarrytown, NY ©Alison Perry 2013


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