Does Cuomo’s Budget Include Tappan Zee Subsidies?

Governor Cuomo’s state budget proposal includes hundreds of millions of dollars in discretionary spending for what one administration official has called “transformational projects.” It’s not clear what the loosely-defined pot of money will be used for, but so far the rhetoric indicates that Cuomo’s wide, transit-less, double-span Tappan Zee replacement bridge could be one recipient.

Cuomo's budget includes discretionary money for "transformational projects." Photo: ##https://twitter.com/nygovcuomo/status/280801518301614080##@NYGovCuomo/Twitter##

This morning, the New York Daily News reported that Cuomo’s budget includes a huge $3 billion bucket of discretionary spending for the governor, including “$720 million in new capital funding for ‘transformative’ projects over the next few years.”

The financing plan for the Tappan Zee Bridge has always been vague. The Thruway Authority has already borrowed $500 million to start paying for the $3.9 billion project, and the Cuomo administration is hoping to get billions more in low-interest financing from the federal TIFIA program. (New York faces stiff competition from 28 other projects all clamoring for a piece of the $7.5 billion in available assistance.) The amount that can be obtained from TIFIA is capped at 49 percent of the total project cost, so that leaves a significant gap to be filled.

The fear has always been that Cuomo will prop up the super-sized highway bridge with general fund dollars, especially since his administration has already caved on using tolls to cover the cost of roads. The pot of vaguely-defined discretionary funds in Cuomo’s budget could include general fund support for the Tappan Zee replacement.

Streetsblog reached out to the governor’s office for more information on how these discretionary funds will be spent, but has yet to receive a reply.

Elsewhere in this year’s budget, you can see evidence of road subsidies creeping upward to make up for Cuomo’s lack of determination to raise tolls: The budget includes an increase in state support for the Thruway Authority to cover costs that would have been covered by a truck toll hike, which the governor-appointed Thruway Authority board canceled in December.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Caption Contest: Tappan Zee Outreach Gone Fishin’

|
Until last fall, the state’s planning for a new Tappan Zee Bridge was a model of public outreach. It included over 280 public meetings and one outreach center open full-time on each side of the bridge. Under Governor Andrew Cuomo, however, the project has been “fast-tracked.” Transit was axed from the bridge and the project […]

Questions Linger Over Cuomo’s Tappan Zee Transit Plans

|
On Monday, Governor Cuomo announced that the state would provide $20 million for transit service across the new Tappan Zee Bridge, and is applying for a federal grant as well. While this first step is welcome news, there are still more questions than answers about what this money will pay for and how the rest of […]

Cuomo Deal Could Clear the Way for a Transit-Oriented Tappan Zee

|
Regrettably, this was an April Fool’s Day post. It should be noted that Streetsblog’s prior April Fool’s Day stories have a way of coming true, at least in part. A little-noticed piece of legislation, passed along with Albany’s budget deal at the Cuomo administration’s request, seems to open the door to building a Tappan Zee […]