A $2 billion federal loan that could help finance building a new Tappan Zee Bridge will not be coming through, at least this time around—New York State was not invited to apply for the national funds, and was placed on a shortlist, instead.
The hefty sum would have covered about one-third of the span's $5.2 billion price tag. Patch first learned of the news through the Federal Highway Administration's website, and later confirmed the posting with transportation officials.
The money is part of a larger pot of TIFIA (Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act) loans, of which the Tappan Zee project does not presently have access to. The state will have another shot at securing TIFIA funds for the project later this year, when the new transportation budget is authorized.
"The DOT received 26 Letters of Interest (LOIs) seeking more than $13 billion in credit assistance to finance approximately $36 billion in infrastructure investment across the country," officials wrote Thursday of TIFIA funds.
Projects that do qualify for TIFIA loans are located in Virginia, Texas, California, and Colorado. New York State can reapply later this year on behalf of the Tappan Zee Bridge.
Thomas Madison, executive director of the New York State Thruway Authority, says the news is not discouraging.
"We are very pleased that the Tappan Zee has been placed on a shortlist of six projects that will undergo an expedited review process for funds immediately after federal transportation reauthorization," he said Thursday. "We understand that in light of current financing constraints, the USDOT has prioritized smaller projects that are further along in development and required immediate financing in this first round."
The Tappan Zee project is one of a handful of infrastructure overhauls across the nation that were by president Barack Obama last year.
Other funding options for the project have been hazy, with selling toll-backed bonds and hiking up toll fares suggested.
The United State Department of Transportation had no comment on the loan's denial as of noon Thursday.
Resident of Rockland and Westchester have for months now, noting a bridge without rail and bus is not one worth building.
If the state includes mass transit, the pricetag would swell to about $16 billion, state officials have said.
Earlier this week, residents of Salisbury Point Cooperative—an apartment community at the foot of the current span in South Nyack—met to . Homeowners noted construction would likely decrease their quality of life, create unwanted noise and disturb creatures in the Hudson River.
Riverkeeper, a Hudson Valley non-profit that acts as an environmental watchdog, has stated they're over ecological concerns. The Atlantic sturgeon, an endangered fish, makes its home under the span.
Currently, the state is spending millions of dollars on tests preparing for construction. "The smart early work is underway," said Madison in March. Workers are installing test piles to determine what loads the final piles can bear.
Congressional staffers in Washington, D.C., today said the issue that seems clear from this round of approved projects is that there was not enough money immediately available for the Tappan Zee Bridge project. The projects that have been selected total about $1.6 billion—whereas the Tappan Zee request was for $2 billion.
In a statement issued this afternoon, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said the federal announcement does keep the door open for the new Tappan Zee bridge.
"The Senate transportation bill that passed with a large bipartisan majority makes a significant investment in the TIFIA program," their statement said. "If the House agrees with that investment, the Tappan Zee has a good chance of being approved, and we hope the House will agree."
Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef said today's announcement was disappointing and it adds more uncertainty to the bridge project.