Dec. 5 (Bloomberg) -- A New York state advisory committee recommended that the Thruway Authority grant a $3.14 billion contract to a Fluor Corp.-led group to design and build a new Tappan Zee Bridge over the Hudson River, according to two people familiar with the selection.
The bid, the lowest of three submitted by almost $1 billion, pegs the cost of the project below the state’s $5.2 billion estimate. The bids were provided by Cuomo during a press briefing in Albany today. He declined to name which construction team was behind the recommended bid. The other teams were headed by Bechtel Group Inc. and Skanska AB.
The project has languished for more than a decade, and Cuomo has made replacing the 56-year-old Tappan Zee a priority. The toll bridge, about 20 miles north of Manhattan, carries 138,000 vehicles each day between Westchester and Rockland counties, 40 percent more than its designers intended.
“This project was pushed, managed and cajoled every step of the way,” Cuomo said. “To get a bridge to this point in a year is a fantastic accomplishment.”
All three bids came in below the estimate, which is good news for Cuomo, a 54-year-old Democrat. He faced pressure after his administration released projections in August that tolls may almost triple to $14 for cash customers from the current $5 to help pay for the 3.1-mile (5 kilometer) bridge. Commuters with a discount plan would pay $8.40, rather than the current $3.
Keith Stephens, a spokesman for Irving, Texas-based Fluor, declined to comment on the bid. Matt Wing, a Cuomo spokesman, also declined to comment on the recommendation. The people familiar with the selection spoke on the condition of anonymity because the process isn’t complete.
The Thruway Authority’s board will meet Dec. 17 to choose the winning bid, Tom Madison, the authority’s executive director said. The board can choose any of the three, though the committee’s recommendation has “significant bearing on what the ultimate decision of the board will be,” Madison said.
The panel made its choice based on the best value, Madison said. Even before considering the price, the recommended bid was already in the lead based on durability, construction speed and aesthetics, he said.
The lower bids reduce the amount the state can get from a federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan, which can cover 49 percent of a project’s cost. The state applied for the loan in September, requesting $2.9 billion.
The loan would help the Thruway Authority, which owns the Tappan Zee, reduce the amount of toll-backed bonds it would have to issue. Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investors Service lowered the authority’s credit outlook to negative in June.
The state wants to structure the loan so that bondholders would have priority for repayment in a default.
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