Tappan Zee Bids Won’t Top $5.2 Billion Estimate: Adviser

Bids to build a new Tappan Zee Bridge over the Hudson River don’t top the estimated $5.2 billion cost, according to Brian Conybeare, a special adviser to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

That assessment was based on information from the bidders, Conybeare said yesterday at a community meeting at Iona College in New Rochelle. Officials haven’t examined the prices in the offers from teams seeking the work and led by Fluor Corp., Bechtel Group Inc. and Skanska AB, Conybeare said.

“They have assured us that they are at or below the $5.2 billion Federal Highway Administration estimate,” he said. “We won’t know the actual bid amounts for another two weeks.”

Plans for covering the cost have been based on that estimate. Cuomo, a Democrat who made replacing the toll bridge a priority, has said the price may rise, depending on the bids. The winner will be picked based on engineering, design, materials, and proposed timing as well as price, he said.

About 138,000 vehicles a day cross between Rockland and Westchester counties over the 3.1 mile (5-kilometer) span about 20 miles north of Manhattan. That’s 40 percent more than it was built to handle.

A cost that’s lower than the federal estimate would be good news for Cuomo, 54, who has faced political pressure since his administration released projections earlier this month that tolls may almost triple to $14 for cash customers, from the current $5, to help pay for the bridge. Commuters with a discount plan would pay $8.40, rather than $3 now.

Alternatives Sought

Last week, Cuomo sent a letter to the New York Thruway Authority, which owns the bridge, asking it to form a task force to examine ways to lower the tolls before they would take effect when the new span opens, expected in 2017.

“We must find alternatives, revenue-generators and cost reductions that reduce the potential toll increases,” Cuomo said in the letter.

The state is seeking a $2 billion federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan to help cover the cost. The majority of the bridge would be financed through toll-backed bonds sold by the Thruway Authority, Cuomo has said.

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