The head of the New York State Thruway Authority said Thursday that the road to funding the planned replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge goes through toll-backed bonds — although a concrete financial plan may not come until August.
Speaking Thursday at a breakfast sponsored by the Citizens Budget Commission, Thomas Madison joked that he would run through his presentation quickly because he understood there were many questions about funding the project that he couldn’t answer.
“I will hedge those after the presentation," he quipped.
Thomas did say the “intent” is not to raise tolls to help fund the $5 billion to $6 billion project, but he added that the state's goal is to be consistent with other area crossings. The Tappan Zee Bridge crossing is $5. The George Washington Bridge, located about a dozen miles south on the Hudson, is more than twice that.
"The principal way, and the predominant way, will be toll-backed Thruway bonds," he said. "There's been talk about pension funds, or some other private equity introduction into the process. Those discussions continue, but ultimately this will be a publicly funded project."
New York will also reapply for a $2 billion low-interest loan from the federal government to help pay for the bridge.
Madison said the "hard target" for a financial plan is August, when the federal government is expected to sign off on the project, but it could come sooner.
The state expects to choose a contractor in July, and hopes to begin constructing the new bridge later this year. Madison said it will take five years to build.
Meanwhile, preliminary work on the new bridge is already in full swing on the Hudson. Starting Friday, said Madison, “they’re going to start driving these 10-foot-in-diameter, 180-foot-long piles down into the riverbed, and then they actually weld another 180-foot pipe on top of that, and continue driving it down.”
You can see slides from Thomas Madison's presentation here.