Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino, Rockland County Executive Scott Vanderhoef and Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell announced today that they plan to vote yes at the next meeting of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council to include the new Tappan Zee Bridge project in the regional plan. The project will qualify for federal funds if the vote is unanimous.
The county executives previously have said they needed more information about the $5.2 billion project, its financing and its impact before committing to a yes vote.
“Under the framework we announce today, mass transit will not be an afterthought in the building of the bridge. With plans to have mass transit as part of the new Tappan Zee Bridge we’re not waiting five years to start thinking about it, we’re moving forward now,” Astorino said in a statement.
Vanderhoef said the framework the county executives agreed to with Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlines steps for building a mass-transit structure and moving forward in that area in the future and ensures the state will explore providing toll discounts for regional residents.
O’Dell said the project will “provide a jolt to the economic vitality of the region, both in terms of the thousands of construction and engineering jobs, as well as the increased commerce for the region that will result from having a state-of-the-art new bridge.”
Cuomo said in a statement that he is pleased the county executives pledged their support. “We will continue to work with local leaders and stakeholders as we move forward with one of the biggest and most critical infrastructure projects in New York,” he said.
The framework they agreed to includes:
—Creating dedicated bus lanes on the bridge.
— Building the bridge with mass-transit capacity for buses and commuter rail.
—Setting up a task force to study cost and options for regional transit. The panel will issue recommendations in one year that include short-term and long-term plans.
—Providing incentives for contractors that could be used to reinvest in regional mass transit or to reduce the impact of increased tolls on drivers.
Cuomo and county executives also agreed to establish a working group of Thruway, state, federal and local officials to look at keeping toll hikes to a minimum. That includes getting the maximum in federal support available, expanding discount programs for regional residents and using financing mechnisms that lower the cost of credit and borrowing.