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Cuomo: Tolls will help pay for new bridge


Gov. Andrew Cuomo revealed more details this week about how the newly named Mario Cuomo Bridge on the Thruway over the Hudson River will be financed.

We know that the former Tappan Zee Bridge will be replaced by the new Gov. Mario Cuomo Bridge, in honor of the current governor’s late father. But we don’t know the final price tag of the project, which spans the Hudson River between Rockland and Westchester counties.

At a business breakfast, Cuomo revealed some new details after Ed Cox, the head of the state’s Republican Party, asked the governor to detail the financing plan for the new bridge. Cuomo said Thruway tolls will help pay for it.

“The remainder after 2020 will be paid with toll revenue from the entire system,” Cuomo said.

Thruway toll rates are frozen until 2020.

The bridge has been partly financed with about $2 billion from the windfall that New York received from bank settlements after the financial crash. There also are bonds from the Thruway Authority and federal loans. The governor said the bridge, estimated at about $4 billion, also costs around $1 billion less than initially planned.

Cuomo has not revealed how much the exact toll on the new bridge will be, or what will happen to Thruway tolls after 2020.

Some object to having Thruway users from the entire state pay for the cost of the new bridge. The business group Unshackle Upstate said, “It’s unfair to ask upstate commuters to pay for a bridge that many will never use.”

Cuomo also took a shot at Cox and former Republican Gov. George Pataki, saying that while the GOP discussed replacing the aging bridge, they failed to follow through.

“They talked about replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge,” Cuomo said. “It just never happened.”

Cuomo said the lack of action contributed to what he calls the “cynicism of government.”

The new bridge will partially open on Aug. 25.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. WBFO listeners are accustomed to hearing DeWitt’s insightful coverage throughout the day, including expanded reports on Morning Edition.