Loans Will Lower Costs for Bridge Financing While Protecting Wildlife
In a special statement issued this week about the $511 million low-interest loan issued by New York State to the Thruway Authority for environmental remediation in conjunction with the construction of the new Tappan Zee Bridge, William M. Mooney, Jr., CEO of the Westchester County Association, said that protecting taxpayers while also protecting the environment is a win-win.
"The use of EFC funding is a resourceful way to continue progress on the new Tappan Zee Bridge in a way that is fiscally and environmentally responsible... This low-interest loan enables New York State to keep potential toll increases down. It will also mitigate environmental impacts and protect our wildlife. Allocating EFC funding is the smart thing to do. It will result in a new bridge that provides less congestion while fulfilling our responsibility to the environment and taxpayers."
The loan will be applied to such projects as oyster bed restoration, protection of habitats, and the removal of toxic materials from the existing bridge. The loan is expected to save at least $17 million in interest costs over three years, as compared to rates on traditional Thruway bonds, thus keeping tolls on the new bridge as low as possible, according to state officials.
“This loan makes good business sense,” Mooney said. “Financing a $3.9 billion project is an enormous undertaking—and if we can reduce the burden in any way while meeting strict environmental guidelines, that’s good news.”
Some environmental advocates criticized the loan claiming it will divert public funds away from other clean water projects. But officials say cleaner water will result from the completion of the projects funded by the loan. “These projects promote the health of the Hudson River Estuary and implement the Environmental Protection Agency-approved Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for the New York-New Jersey Harbor & Estuary,” said Joseph Martens, EFC Chairman of the Board in a statement. “This plan has served as the guiding instrument for managing this important estuary for two decades.”
Mooney pointed out that while protecting the Hudson River, the EFC also will continue to meet its obligations for financing other wastewater and drinking water projects across New York State.