Thursday, July 17, 2014
 

 

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$511 million loan to build new TZ Bridge approved in Albany; environmental groups object

ALBANY – The Public Authorities Control Board approved $256 million as the first installment of the $511 million no-interest/low-interest loans from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to build the new Tappan Zee Bridge. Thruway Authority officials will seek the other $256 million in 2016.

The vote on Wednesday is “legal and proper to use the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund to protect the Hudson River, its wildlife habitats during the construction” of the bridge, said Matthew Driscoll, president of the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation.  “This is a revolving loan and, like all of these loans approved by the Environmental Facilities Corp., this loan will be repaid and then recycled to benefit other clean-water projects across the state.”

Environmental critical of the low/no interest funding; state says environmental concerns are addressed

“Talk about putting lipstick on a pig? A raid is a raid, and a quarter billion dollars in public money should not be bandied about behind closed doors without proper public scrutiny and oversight,” said spokesman Travis Proulx.  “We have to wait to see what the federal government is going to do.  The Cuomo administration acknowledged today that the federal government can claw back any amount of this money that they think is being repurposed away from its intended purpose, which is clean water, sewer systems, etc.”

Riverkeeper Paul Gallay said the state’s legislative leaders “must have been hiding their heads in the sand to vote for this loan despite the thunderous opposition it drew from their fellow legislators, municipal officials groups; water treatment plant operators; editorial boards; good government groups; transportation advocates; and environmentalists.”

Thruway Authority Executive Director Thomas Madison said that all of the environmental mitigation measures on the project “will continue to be implemented as planned.”

Madison said the Thruway Authority “is committed to an unprecedented level of environmental stewardship on the New NY Bridge project, and also to keeping tolls on the new spans as low as possible; this innovative financing package helps us achieve both goals.”