Transit-Free Tappan Zee Bridge Financial Plan: It’s “Dynamic”!

Not shown on Thruway Authority director ## Madison's timeline##: paying for the new Tappan Zee Bridge.

The Cuomo administration plans to select a team to build the new Tappan Zee Bridge this summer and begin construction this year. So it’s about time for the governor to say how he plans to pay for the bridge, right?

Luckily, in order to comply with federal transportation law, the state issued a financial summary of the project just last week [PDF]. Rest assured, taxpayers: the state has a clear and detailed plan to pay for the bridge. To wit: “The plan of finance for the Project assumes the Project will be financed with toll revenue bonds among a broad range of options under consideration. The level and timing of toll adjustments, debt structure, and balance between debt and pay-as-you-go funding remain under development.”

That’s the kind of iron-clad commitment you can take to the bank.

But just in case you’re worried that the Cuomo administration is locking itself into a specific strategy to pay for the new bridge, fear not: “The plan of finance will be dynamic in character and take into consideration new information as it becomes available.”

The financial summary does note that, if push comes to shove, the Thruway can cover the cost of the bridge by raising tolls. Of course, Thruway Authority executive director Thomas Madison has consistently refused to say whether a toll hike will be necessary to build the bridge, much less provide New Yorkers with details like whether Thruway drivers in Western New York will end up paying for the Hudson Valley’s new and overbuilt bridge.

In other news, Andrew Cuomo claims to run an administration that is “the most transparent and accountable in history.”

It’s clear that there isn’t yet any plan to find the $5.4 billion (sometimes $6.0 billion, but who’s counting?) needed to build a new Tappan Zee that is twice as wide as the current bridge. That makes it awfully hard to take the Cuomo administration seriously when officials protest that the state just can’t afford to add bus rapid transit, which had been estimated to cost under $1 billion for a 30 mile corridor until the Cuomo administration wildly inflated its price tag without any explanation. If it’s all going to come down to toll-backed bonds in the end, as looks increasingly likely, the Cuomo administration could opt to raise Thruway tolls a little bit higher and pay for transit.

The problem was never that the state couldn’t afford Tappan Zee Bridge transit. If anything, the state can’t afford not to build transit; forcing New Yorkers to drive over another 1950’s style bridge will cost more in gas and congestion, not to mention pollution and sprawl, than it will save in construction costs. The problem is just that Andrew Cuomo, true to form, won’t spend a dime on transit.

  • Wisconsin’s fave NY Gov

    What’s the difference between Cuomo and Wisconsin’s Scott Walker?

  • Miles Bader

    Walker has Nicholas Cage’s mouth, whereas Cuomo has Cage’s nose…

    [creepy, but pretty much anything involving Nicholas Cage is creepy…]

  • bill b

    I think gov.Cuomo knows exactly how the new TAP will be paid for. Also he will say there will be some sort of transit option, creation of thousands of new jobs,the most green bridge in the world, no toll booths to slow traffic , and that the bridge is good for the fish in the river. New Yorkers this bridge is a investment , look out for your wallets .. 

  • Larry Littlefield

    Question:  do people here believe doing nothing is an option?  That the bridge does not have to be replaced, or continually repaired on an ongoing basis until it becomes unusable?  That the idea that the bridge needs to be replaced is made up?

    Look, I agree that the middle lanes should be a busway, with separate ramps to the non-highway east-west routes that could gradually be turned into BRT.

    But unless you believe there is no need to do anything, the argument that we can’t afford to replace the bridge is just further proof that our future is screwed.  And not just at the Tappan Zee.  

    Let see the plan without it, and what the effect will be on the Lower Hudson Valley, which is NOT getting East Side Access or that three station BMT line extension that used to be the Second Avenue Subway.

  • Ben Kintisch

    Actually, I still haven’t figured out why this new bridge has to be double the capacity of the old bridge. And Mr. Cuomo and his Thruway cronies assume that drivers will continuously pay higher tolls no matter what. But, sometimes when the costs go up, demand goes down…and then it’s just all of New York’s taxpayer’s stuck with paying an even bigger share for this boondoggle if the tolls aren’t gonna cover it. All in all, a wildly irresponsible show of “leadership.” 

  • Alexander Vucelic

    Per capita VMT has been declining for a decade in The US

    by The time a new Bridge Is compete (2025 or so), per capita VMT should be 40% less than 2005.

    therefore, any new Bridge should be smaller than The old.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    Larry – if drivers and Truckers are willing to Pay The full cost of a new Bridge; then more power to them.

    but my guess Is drivers and Truckers want to have lavish subsidies.