Gov. Andrew Cuomo, county executives from Putnam, Rockland and Westcehster counties and other officials signed a new letter of intent today to apply for federal funding to build a new Tappan Zee Bridge. The letter, signed after the New York Metropolitan Transit Council voted unanimously to support Cuomo’s $5.2 billion plan for a new bridge, was sent to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.
“After over a decade of delay caused by political dysfunction, this letter demonstrates that we are making real progress towards constructing a stronger, transit-ready bridge that will reduce congestion and be safer for drivers for years to come,” Cuomo said in a statement.
The New York Metropolitan Transit Council signifies there is an agreement between officials in New York City, Long Island and the Lower Hudson Valley to seek federal approval for the new bridge. States have to follow the federally required metropolitan and statewide planning processes to be eligible for federal funding. President Barack Obama accepted the governor’s request last fall to expedite the process to build a new bridge.
Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino, Rockland County Executive Scott Vanderhoef and Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell said last week that they would vote in favor of Cuomo’s plan. They have cited concerns about the need for more public-transit options on the new bridge and how the project would be funded.
The county executives and Cuomo agreed to a framework last week that includes creating dedicated bus lanes on the bridge, buidling the structure with mass-transit capacity for buses and commuter rail and setting up a task force to study cost and options for regional transit. They also agreed to set up a working group of Thruway, state, federal and local officials to explore how to minimize toll hikes.
This is the letter: