After New York State announced its plan to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge in 1999, for more than a decade the project stalled. But after a huge push from Governor Cuomo, it's speeding along with construction about to begin. YNN's John Wagner reports.
POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. -- Set to officially begin construction on the largest bridge project in the U.S., the head of the New York Thruway Authority says final permits should be approved within days. Construction equipment is being shipped to the site of the Tappan Zee and shovels will be under water, beginning in June.
"Forget about the construction project, the bridge itself has an enormous and favorable impact on the entire New York State economy," said Thomas J. Madison, Jr., executive director of the NYS Thruway Authority.
The new bridge runs approximately $4 billion and to prevent tolls from skyrocketing, the state is counting on securing a $1.5 billion loan from the federal government. State officials will meet with the feds next week.
"To start to negotiate what the eligible costs will be on the project, as you know we've been invited to receive up to 33 percent of the eligible costs," said Madison.
Although the Tappan Zee is an hour and a half drive from Poughkeepsie, business leaders do think the mid-Hudson Valley will benefit.
"It's down in Westchester, to bring commerce up here," said Charlie North, president of the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce. "Our attractions will be easier accessible."
"I think that also will be an impetus for companies that want to move up here," said Keith McLaughlin, a financial advisor in Poughkeepsie.
"Any time you see increased traffic, you'll see increased prosperity," said Catherine Maloney, President and CEO of the Dutchess County Economic Development Corporation.
The state will hold meetings for contractors who want a piece of the project next Tuesday and Wednesday near the Tappan Zee. More info is available at http://www.newnybridge.com.
"General business - I see more of an advantage down south," said McLaughlin. "I see a real estate advantage for people who live on the other side probably, because it'll be an easier commute in and out of NYC."
"In the next five and a quarter years, tens of thousands of people working on it, so it's going to have a positive impact on the entire Hudson Valley," said Madison.
Looking forward, dredging begins in August and the first of two spans is scheduled to open in 2016.