After more than ten years of talking, and over $88 million in consultant fees, Governor Cuomo has tired of inaction and seeks to set the construction of the new Tappan Zee Bridge into high gear, according to Larry Schwartz, Secretary to the Governor who, with Mark Roche, a top aide to the Governor, discussed plans to build the replacement Tappan Zee Bridge at a special session today of WCA Executive Board. But the competition for federal...
...funding is fierce, and 56 year-old bridge--which has exceeded its projected lifespan by six years--is feeling its age. Today, much of the region's labor force and durable goods travels over the bridge, even as it crumbles.
|Larry Schwartz (right) and Mark Roche (left) top aides to Governor Cuomo discuss plans to build a replacement Tappan Zee Bridge at today's Special Executive Board meeting of the WCA.|
So, Schwartz and Roche met with the WCA to detail their case and seek support for a new bridge, one that is meeting some opposition from community groups.
"Like many in the region, the County Association continues to be publicly supportive of the bridge replacement project," says Amy Allen, WCA's managing director, Advocacy and International Trade. Allen cites Westchester's need to tap into a wider labor force and to transport goods as reason to rebuild the bridge. A new Tappan Zee would also create thousands of construction and allied jobs here.
When the current bridge was erected in 1956, it was designed to accommodate 80,000 vehicles per day with a 50-year lifespan. In 2006, the Tappan Zee was already accommodating 140,000 to 170,000 vehicles daily, and was showing signs of severe stress as, for example, when a three foot-long hole appeared in the deck forcing emergency repairs. Add to that today's stringent seismic standards that the current bridge does not meet.
In 2007, then-NYS DOT commissioner Astrid Glynn told business leaders that the Tappan Zee Bridge was the only public works project in the United States with--at that time--a $5 billion no-build price tag, meaning it would cost $5 billion to bring the current bridge up to snuff.
Both Schwartz and Roche project that the new proposed bridge will cost $5 billion with the economic burden being transferred from the taxpayer to the private sector. Under the Governor's plan, contractors will be paid for on-time performance, a stipulation built into current contracts to help reduce delays and protect the state against project overrun costs. "The process is not being driven by Albany, it is driven locally through the Governor's office," said Schwartz, a Westchester native.
Only qualified builders are being considered he said. "The design-build teams have invested millions to submit their bids and are some of the best bridge builders in the world."