Thruway Director: Private Financing for Tappan Zee Not a Done Deal

In his confirmation hearings, Thruway Authority Executive Director Tom Madison noted that the financial plan for the Tappan Zee Bridge isn't complete yet.

While predicting that work on the new Tappan Zee Bridge could start as early as this summer, incoming Thruway Authority executive director Tom Madison revealed at confirmation hearings yesterday that financing for the new bridge is still very much a work in progress.

“At this moment, as we sit here, the complete financial plan has not been developed for the Tappan Zee Bridge,” said Madison.

One major complication is whether “alternative financing,” such as using union pension funds rather than traditional bonding, will be on the table for the Tappan Zee. Under current law, the state can’t engage in that type of arrangement.

“At this moment in time, we don’t have the legal statutory allowance in New York state to do public-private partnership as they are technically defined in transportation projects,” said Madison, as quoted by the Politics on the Hudson blog. “So right now, the plan is that the Tappan Zee Bridge will be a publicly financed project.”

However, in his State of the State address last week, Governor Cuomo reiterated his goal to finance the Tappan Zee with private sector investment. So it looks like the legislature will be called on to change the law, setting up a vote that could enable private financing for the project some time in the first half of this year.