Archive for the ‘TIFIA’ Category

Infrastructure & New York State: the TZB Now

Governor Andrew Cuomo fielding reporters’ questions on the new bridge/© J Rosman 2016

Governor Andrew Cuomo fielding reporters’ questions on the new bridge/© J Rosman 2016

We stepped back and walked to orange cones on the northern side of the span, where Governor Coumo would answer reporters’ questions.

I wanted to ask the governor if he planned to invite President-elect Trump to the project site, especially since Trump bemoaned U.S. infrastructure at an October 14, 2015, rally in Richmond, Virginia.

“We’re like a Third World country,” he said. “Our airports, our roads, our bridges are falling down. Sixty-one percent of our bridges are in trouble. Do you believe this? We drive over a bridge, it’s in trouble.”

Although I never had a chance to pose my question it was partly answered in response to another reporter’s question. Cuomo also discussed the topic with businessman and former NYC mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis on the CATS Roundtable (AM 970) last weekend.

westbound-span

“Governor, New Yorkers have the most powerful man in the United States Senate, Chuck Schumer, and we have the President of the United States in Washington,” Catsimatidis said. “Can the two of them help New York State? Have you talked to them about a commitment about getting federal funds like Roosevelt got for Robert Moses?”

“I spoke to President-elect Trump to congratulate him after he was elected and one of the first things he went to was infrastructure because he’s a builder, and his point was we don’t build anymore,” Cuomo said. “He (Trump) pointed out that we do build in New York and he’s coming up with a big infrastructure program.”

“We have $100 billion,” he said. ” The largest commitment in modern political history for infrastructure, et cetera. Airports all over the state. Roads and bridges all over the state. The trick now is making it happen, getting it done. And that’s a new task for government.”

tappan-zee-from-here

Three years ago this month Trump said he could fix the aging Tappan Zee Bridge “for peanuts”, and “The $4 billion will end up turning out to be $10 billion, and the state will never be able to afford it.”

His words came days after then-Thruway Authority Executive Director Thomas Madison closed a deal with the U.S. Department of Transportation for an historic $1.6 billion Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan for the new bridge.

Nearly $700 million more than anticipated and the largest low-interest (3.89 percent) loan in TIFIA history, it was a major coup for the bridge project. Did Trump know Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC (TZC) was also nearing the end of its first year on the 62-month assignment?

I’m sure President-elect Trump has since changed his mind about the bridge project, which reached another milestone this week. I wonder if he will be awed by it as I was and hope he continues to support New York State’s infrastructure initiatives.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2016

It’s Nearly One Thousand Ninety-Five Days Later

Crews place road deck panels on top of the blue girders we can see while driving/NYSTA

Crews place road deck panels on top of the blue girders we can see while driving/NYSTA

Can you believe three years went by so fast? I know. Neither can I. It seems like yesterday the New NY Bridge project was approved for a ginormous TIFIA loan. Word came 10 months after Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC, started the project; the deal was finalized before the year ended.

Fluffy clouds painted onto a blue sky/© Janie Rosman 2014

Fluffy clouds painted onto a blue sky/© Janie Rosman 2014

Every time I got into a boat on the river was exciting for me, even when the weather was against me the day the super crane made its first placement. The sky and colorful machinery are a terrific contrast with the stark bridge.

If someone asked what was the most exciting I’d say it was last June, when we stood under the bridge near the Rockland side and watched the super crane place the first girder assembly. We had a perfect view of the project from river level and saw the piers in various stages of completion.

Placements can take from 1 to 4 hours/© Janie Rosman 2015

Placements can take from 1 to 4 hours/© Janie Rosman 2015

Something else I noticed when I downloaded the pictures was the crew’s fixed attention as it was happening so I cropped one picture and enlarged that section of it.

One reader suggested I document the project’s first 1,000 days. It’s a terrific idea. So much has happened between January 18, 2013, and October 15, 2015. That 1,000th day was two months short of the Tappan Zee’s 60th birthday and for some kids a special celebration. Do you notice people sometimes say the current bridge as if there are two?

Perception: cars and trucks look small/© Janie Rosman 2014

Perception: cars and trucks look small/© Janie Rosman 2014

One favorite picture from a June 2014 media tour offers size perspective: a huge truck on the bridge is tiny when you see it going by, and while the bridge is large, it pales in size next to the huge cranes and various-sized barges they’re mounted on and that move them to where they’re needed.

Year four starts Monday as the project moves closer to its spring 2018 completion date. The first meeting I covered was in March 2012;  the following April came this blog, where I post several times each week. To read a synopsis of the project by year click here, here and here.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2016

Recapping 2014: Condensed Year in Review

This year continued the celebration from December 2013, when Thruway Authority Executive Director Thomas J. Madison closed the deal on a generous TIFIA loan, and the Left Coast Lifter waved — if it can limbo under our bridge, then it can wave — goodbye to California, ready for its 6,000-mile trip to New York Harbor.

Massive crane leaving CA for New York/Jacob Tanenbaum

Massive crane leaving CA for New York/Jacob Tanenbaum

Rumor has it the state renamed the crane I Lift NY due to this blog post.

While super crane was shimmying through the Panama Canal, Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC (TZC) began its second year on the clock, our toes froze, and the Mass Transit Task force was one meeting away from our travel futures. A monorail would have been fun.

Yikes! It was cold. Frozen river? No problem, tweeted project officials (pic.twitter.com/M6vFOHYdBQ), and before January ended, the super crane arrived.

by justin sullivan

February opened with name-calling: the crane had a new moniker, and folks debated about a legendary folk singer. New safety warnings were issued, the state police and Thruway Authority relocated, and then came the final Mass Transit Task Force meeting. C’mon, you knew it’d be bus rapid transit.

The morning before it, my dear, sweet father passed away in his sleep. I love you and miss you very much, dad. You may have been there, too, because more cake than I ate was missing from my plate. Dad loved cake. Thank you to friends who were there for mom and me that night, throughout the weekend to his funeral, and this past year.

new RNA safety zone

March told us Ramp E in Tarrytown would close for the second time. Mid-month brought annual meetings in both counties and new boater safety regulations. Days later, when another barge escaped, the bridge builder addressed the issue and paid stiff fines.

In April we got money for those transit plans. The Tarrytown Outreach Center relocated, and President Barack Obama and Governor Andrew Cuomo came to town in May. Some construction vessels were now tracked via GPS, and the Outreach Team visited marinas as boating season opened.

Steel piles are ready to be capped/© Janie Rosman 2014

Steel piles are ready to be capped/© Janie Rosman 2014

June announced the 2014 Bridge Art Show. It’s bye-bye to the Rockland landing, and the start of main span pile cap construction. Need funding? How about a $500M loan from CWSRF? The project team sent emergency supplies to Delaware, and EFC approved the money.

A quiet July 4th weekend was followed by stricter safety measures. The Thruway Authority got half of the $511 million, and concrete technology arrived on the Hudson. Piermont boaters now have a safe passage to the main channel, pile cap installation began, and then came a detour.

Opening night: admiring Westchester and Rockland artists’ depictions of the current and future bridge/NNYB Outreach

Opening night: admiring Westchester and Rockland artists’ depictions of the current and future bridge/NNYB Outreach

Another project first: the 2014 Bridge Art Show opened at Nyack First Friday and debuted in Tarrytown the next week, thanks to collaborating groups. Rebar alert per NNYB, and you know the loan that came through? No, no, the EPA said. Educational outreach began its second year, there were lane shifts for construction, and the viewing areas started to take shape.

October brought Cuomo’s Build NY Initiative, and the governor was in Piermont to welcome the crane. Team Outreach celebrated Halloween bridge-style, and a new electronic highway sign was tested.

Two of the new bridge's 86 vertical steel towers seen near the Westchester approach span/NNYB Outreach

Two of the new bridge’s 86 vertical steel towers seen near the Westchester approach span/NNYB Outreach

Several lane closures in November, when the state told the EPA, See you in court. The first two pier towers were completed, and more criticism about the bridge finances from an oversight office. TZC’s president received the “Good Scout” award, and South Nyack asked the governor for help.

Detours, lane closures, and more lane closures kicked off December, and the bridge had a birthday! A mid-month accident — thankfully, no one was hurt — temporarily halted cement production and not the project, which soon begins its third year.

Did I miss something? I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2014

Top Secret: The Five Ws — And How!

Can it be? Two years ago I wrote, “Westchester and Rockland County residents won’t be held hostage to inflated fares on the new Tappan Zee Hudson River Crossing.”

Tappan-Zee-Bridge-toll-plaza

Double entendre, the header.

I learned the five W questions — who, when, where, what and why — plus “How?” The phrase “and how” means very much so, a strong confirmation. “And how” in header confirms the five Ws and asks “How?”

Back to the questions. Who knows the bottom line about fare hikes? When‘s it going to take effect? Where will it be applied? What is the reason for it? Why are we told different answers each time we ask?

Lots of unknowns about the toll hike. It’s a reality. When is anybody’s guess. We can figure out where and the reason, too.

Miracles happen. I believe in them. Days before we got the $1.6 billion Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan, Standard & Poor’s downgraded the Thruway Authority’s long-term bond rating from A+ to A due to concern about potential toll increases.

TIFIA funds are usually limited to 33 percent of total project costs. Who said the New NY Bridge is a usual project?

Our asked-for amount was approved plus another $500 million to boot. Miracle right there. Fast-forward to the EPA’s recent decision. Now comes the appeal.

* * * * *

The first span will open 18 months from now in March/April 2016, and both spans will be raring to go in March/April 2018. I heard Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC (TZC) will shell out plenty if the Thruway Authority doesn’t have keys in hand by the 2018 opening date.

Eighteen months until we drive across one new span.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2014

Thruway Board Unanimously Says “Yes” to Interest-Free Loan for New NY Bridge Project

Yesterday, the Thruway Authority unanimously approved a $255.7 million interest-free loan from the state Environmental Facilities Corporation’s clean water loan fund to help finance the new bridge.

Tappan Zee Bridge/Courtesy of Severin St. Martin

Tappan Zee Bridge/Courtesy of Severin St. Martin

Half of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s original $511 amount, the money was initially intended for statewide clean water projects like sewage treatment.

“All the project elements articulated were developed during the early phase of the project, (during) environmental review,” Thruway Authority Executive Director Thomas Madison said. Pursuit of the EFC loan “wasn’t even contemplated. Some think it’s a financial gimmick. It’s a prudent and innovative approach to look at all possibilities.”

Critics challenged the idea, and claimed it set a dangerous precedent with lasting dire consequences.

“This loan misappropriates funding that Congress provided to fix New York’s aging water infrastructure and restore the health of our rivers,” Hudson Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay said after the decision was announced.

Bridge construction activities — dredging, pile driving, design and engineering work — “do not meet the legal standard for the Clean Water Act loan program” for implementing the adopted plan for Hudson River estuary restoration to quality for funding,” Gallay said.

Not surprisingly, he said, EPA is reviewing this loan and can disallow it.

Riverkeeper will be right in the middle that fight, rwhich is where our members rightly expect us to be, whenever government action runs this far afoul of the environmental laws designed to protect the Hudson River.”

“We are mindful of concerns raised,” Thruway Chairman Howard P. Milstein said in a statement. “The Thruway Authority remains committed to an unprecedented level of environmental protection on the New NY Bridge project.”

Courtesy of the Westchester County Archives

Courtesy of the Westchester County Archives

Milstein said the loans will save $35 million in finance costs, and ‘will also help keep tolls on the new bridge as low as possible.”

Last December, the project was awarded an historic $1.6 billion Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan, the largest in its history, which is limited to 33 percent of total project costs.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2014

%d bloggers like this: