Joan McDonald took the podium Wednesday afternoon and made a succinct statement on behalf of governor Andrew Cuomo.
"We have been planning and talking for too long—it's time to build ," McDonald, commissioner of New York State's Department of Transportation, said.
Her assessment was met with applause from the dozens of local construction industry leaders that gathered for an luncheon in Tarrytown, just beneath the shadow of the .
McDonald reiterated several key points Cuomo made last week during his State of the State address—mainly that a new Hudson span , and shovels could be in the ground as early as this year.
It's a sentiment members of the Construction Industry Council (CIC) of Westchester and the Hudson Valley support.
"The Tappan Zee Bridge is the heart and soul of the region," said Ross Pepe, president of the CIC. "Without it, we're in trouble."
But the CIC, McDonald and Cuomo do not believe mass transit is a key component in the plan. Officials seek to quickly build a $5.2 billion car-only bridge, and perhaps layer bus and rail onto it later.
"We cannot wait for mass transit to be developed on both sides of the bridge," Pepe added.
It's a plan that —many residents believe mass transit is cardinal to the bridge's success, and that rail connecting Rockland to New York City is long overdue.
Further, officials announced last month that the bridge will not be financed through a public-private partnership; instead, the burden will fall on taxpayers' shoulders alone.
"We will be using public dollars to pay for it," explained George Drapeau III, of the CIC, Wednesday afternoon.
Officials have yet to weigh in on the specifics of how the billion-dollar price-tag will be handled, but in November of 2011, the Wall Street Journal reported Cuomo was considering dipping into pension funds.