Wednesday, October 01, 2014

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$3.1 billion design picked for new Tappan Zee Bridge

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Albany/HV: $3.1 billion design picked for new Tappan Zee Bridge
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Steps to replace the deteriorating Tappan Zee Bridge have moved ahead at lightning speed. This Monday, a contract was awarded. YNN's Elaina Athans has more.

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. -- Replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge is one of the biggest infrastructure projects in the country. The Thruway Authority Board had three options to consider and picked the cheapest one.

“This will be among the largest single construction ever awarded in New York history,” said NYS Thruway Authority Executive Director Thomas Madison.

Proposal one is the lucky winner. The design was signed off on by the Thruway Authority Board and the nod given to start replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge.

“The bridge would last at least a hundred years without major reconstruction or major investments,” said Madison.

The state says proposal one has the shortest construction calendar, require the least amount of dredging in the Hudson River and has the lowest cost at roughly $3.1 billion.

The selection ends a rapid race for replacement. President Obama fast-tracked the project. A project of this size, the state says, would usually take seven years to get federal approvals. New York did it in about seven months.

“In just about one year, the bridge went from articulating a vision to getting close to putting a shovel in the ground. And this is a bridge. It can take a year to plan an extension on your home,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The environmental watchdog group Riverkeeper has been outspoken during the accelerated process. The organization says they need more information on the project's overall impacts and is contemplating legal action.

"The state has indicated that it will share this information with us. Once we've received it, and discussed it with the state, we'll be in a better position to determine how to proceed,” said Riverkeeper Press Officer Tina Posterli.

The state also needs to find a way to proceed with paying for the replacement. The state applied for a low interest federal loan, but has not heard if the funding has been secured. The governor says tolls will be one of the main funding sources for construction. Right now, there's a project price of $14. The Governor says an Advisory Commission will be formed to keep the cost to commuters low.

“We want to get the toll as low as possible and we’re going to be working towards that,” said Cuomo.

No word on when the state will find out if it’s getting the federal loan or how much will be offered. Construction is expected to start right after the New Year.

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