New York Seeks $300 Million Union Savings on Tappan Zee Bridge

The New York Thruway Authority is negotiating a deal with unions aimed at saving $300 million on construction of a new Tappan Zee Bridge by including a no-strike clause and giving contractors control over work schedules.

Details of the negotiations were released today by the Thruway Authority in a request for proposals sent to four construction teams competing to win the $5.2 billion project. The teams, announced last month, include Fluor Corp. (FLR), Bechtel Group Inc., Skanska AB (SKAB) and Grupo Dragados SA (DRC).

The request is part of an accelerated construction process made possible by a so-called design-build law approved by legislators in December. It puts private companies in charge of designing and building the Hudson River crossing, rather than having the state develop the plan and put it out to bid. The law was backed by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The deal would save $300 million by “unifying work rules, implementing a no-strike clause, providing a flexible work week, allowing the contractor to control work sequencing and operations, and other important concessions,” according to a statement on a website set up by the Thruway Authority to track the project’s progress.

Thruway Authority Executive Director Tom Madison said in a statement that the agency wants to ensure that “we maximize the public investment, provide important labor protections and serve our customers as efficiently as possible.”

Bob Walsh, business manager for the New York City Ironworkers, didn’t immediately respond to a phone call requesting comment.

Over Capacity

The three-mile-long (4.8-kilometer) Tappan Zee, which connects Rockland and Westchester counties as part of the New York State Thruway system, carries 138,000 vehicles a day, 40 percent more than its original design intended.

Final proposals for the project, which would create an estimated 45,000 jobs, will be submitted in June, and the winning group will be announced in the following two months, Cuomo said last month.

The state has applied for a $2 billion loan under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act to help pay for new bridge and is considering issuing toll-backed bonds and private financing to cover the rest.

New York’s project is one of 26 seeking a total of $13 billion in Tifia loans, the U.S. Transportation Department said in a statement e-mailed Feb. 15. The program has about $1.1 billion available, and New York is asking that its $2 billion be spread out over several years.

To contact the reporter on this story: Freeman Klopott in Albany, New York, at fklopott@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net

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