Friday, December 20, 2013
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New Tappan Zee Bridge moves forward on financial and construction fronts
SUFFERN –The financial support and construction for the New Tappan Zee Bridge is progressing slowly but surely as bridge-builders close on vital sources of capital and progress with the heavy work of setting the foundations for the structure.
Bridge spokesman Brian Conybeare announced recent, critical steps for the bridge at a Rockland Business Association luncheon in Suffern’s Crowne Plaza Hotel on Thursday.
Conybeare said the project has cleared major financial hurdles in recent days, including the closing of a $1.6 billion federal TIFIA loan between the New York State Thruway Authority and the U.S. Department of Transportation.
“Now we have the money in place to build this bridge, so it’s full-steam ahead,” Conybeare said.
The TIFIA loan was finalized later in the day and announced by the governor.
In addition, $1.6 billion in low-interest, five-year bonds were sold by the Thruway Authority on the open market on December 18. Together, the two items represent $3.2 billion of the $3.9 billion required to finance the project.
The bridge will also be financed in part by higher tolls, a matter of concern for commuters. In response, a Toll-Financing Task Force was announced and is expected to begin analyzing alternatives in the near future, Conybeare said.
“Construction is up and running and it will get even busier during 2014 and now we have the money in place to pay for this bridge, so now it is full steam ahead,” he said.
Temporary work platforms have been set up to limit the need for dredging, which completed for the season on November 1. Pile driving for the main span began in October and is expected to take 12 to 18 months to complete, after which pile caps and piers will be placed on about 1,000 steel piles.
“Over the course of the next year or year and a half, you’re going to start seeing a bridge rising out of the Hudson River,” Conybeare said.
Other newly-installed devices include the vibratory hammer for pushing the piles into place and bubble curtains to contain sound and limit impact on wildlife. The large-scale construction has already created 586 direct jobs and brought business to 500 different companies.
The first span of the bridge is expected to be completed in 2016. The complete twin-span bridge should be up by 2018.