County Executives: Use Settlement $ for Bridge

Courtesy of the Westchester County Archives

Courtesy of the Westchester County Archives

Nearly 60 years ago two counties were joined by a new bridge. Earlier this week, the executives from those two counties both called upon the governor about paying for that bridge’s replacement.

Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino and Rockland County Executive Ed Day asked Governor Andrew Cuomo to use $1.95 billion — from approximately $5 billion in settlements from BNP Paribas SA and Credit Suisse Group AG over economic and tax improprieties — to fund the New NY Bridge project.

“The bank settlement funds should be spent entirely on state infrastructure projects and not on recurring expenses, and a large portion of those funds should be used to help pay for the new Tappan Zee, a bridge of critical regional and statewide economic importance,” Astorino said.

Obama fast-tracked the TZB project/© Janie Rosman 2014

Obama fast-tracked the TZB project/© Janie Rosman 2014

“In the absence of anything definite from Albany, County Executive Astorino and I worked together to develop a Tappan Zee Bridge funding plan of our own, and a reasonable, workable and smart solution,” Day said.

They chose the amount because it’s half the cost of the $3.9 billion bridge, and about 40 percent of the bank settlement money, and sent their proposal to Governor Cuomo in a formal letter.

* * * * *

At the Thruway Authority’s August 6 meeting, Chairman Howard P. Milstein noted some legislators “think there’s a surplus of $4 billion, and (that it) should be used for the bridge,” citing the $3.3 billion New York State is set to receive from a recent record settlement with France’s largest bank that will be added to its general fund.

Why not? PACB Budget Director Bob Megna had said he’ll “move as hard as he can to get the money moved to infrastructure like the Tappan Zee Bridge.”

* * * * *

When in Piermont in October, Cuomo was asked about tolls and the task force he proposed in 2012 to address them.

Tappan Zee Bridge toll plaza/Courtesy of Jack Thomas

Tappan Zee Bridge toll plaza/Courtesy of Jack Thomas

“We don’t know how much we will we get from the federal government, how much we will get from the state; there are state loans and grants we can access,” he said, citing the variables. Additional unknowns are the built-in contract incentives for Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC (TZC) to finish the project before spring 2018 or penalties for completing it later.

“Once you have those numbers, then you can come up with a plan about how to do it, what commuters should pay, on-hour, off-hour, etc.,” he said.

The governor assured the task force will be formed “I think within the next year, certainly,” and commuters “should have to pay as little as possible.” Rumors have been that tolls could run as high as $14 per vehicle, but state officials have downplayed that possibility.

Read here about another suggestion to fund the bridge.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2014

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