Tappan Zee Scores Largest Ever TIFIA Loan, But How Will It Be Repaid?

New York State received good news on Oct. 31: A $1.6 billion loan has been approved toward the $4 billion replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge. The remainder will be borrowed from the private sector. A commission will offer ways to repay the loans.

2 minute read

November 5, 2013, 9:00 AM PST

By Irvin Dawid

While news of approval of the low-cost Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan from the U.S. Department of Transportation was no doubt well-received by the New York State Thruway Authority (see press release), it still left them with the problem of working out how the the loans will be repaid. Buffalo News reporter, Tom Precious, whose readers are probably more concerned about whether tolls on their portion of I-90 on the Thruway will increase to repay the loans, writes:

Asked if a determination had been made to have bridge users pay for the construction or to spread it out across the Thruway system, [Gov. Andrew] Cuomo said he is awaiting recommendations from a commission that was created to look at various financing ideas.

Later, a Cuomo spokesman, seeking "to end any worries that Thruway tolls on the entire system will rise...", stated that there were "no plans for other Thruway users to pay for the bridge’’. Similarly, a plan to raise tolls on trucks was scrapped after push back from industry groups, writes Precious.

And what about upping the tolls on the 138,000 bridge users? Precious writes that "original estimates when the project was first projected to cost $5 billion had bridge tolls nearly tripling to $14 each way".

Uncertainty over how to finance the construction has already led a "Wall Street ratings agency (to) lower the credit rating on Thruway borrowings this week, in part, because of uncertainty over toll increases and the federal loan level."

Not ruled out is charging all New Yorkers by using "the state’s budget to help pay for some of the bridge’s costs," writes Precious.

Contrast the uncertainty that the Thruway Authority and New York State is showing in the $4 billion to $5 billion Tappan Zee Bridge project with Virginia's $2 billion tunnels project which is in the hands of a public-private partnership. A toll schedule has already been approved to commence Feb. 1, writes The Virginia-Pilot's Dave Forster:

The all-electronic tolls will start at $1.84 for passenger vehicles and $7.36 for trucks during peak travel times, with Elizabeth River Crossings able to increase the amount by at least 3.5 percent a year beginning in 2016. The fees will be higher for motorists who decline to sign up for an E-ZPass account.

Being a public-private partnership, Elizabeth River Crossing's "58-year contract allows it to make an average annual profit of 13.5 percent on its investment," writes Forster.

Monday, November 4, 2013 in The Buffalo News

stack of books

Planetizen’s Top Planning Books of 2023

The world is changing, and planning with it.

November 24, 2023 - Planetizen Team

Close-up of 'Red Line Subway Entry' sign with Braille below and train logo above text in Chicago, Illinois.

Chicago Red Line Extension Could Transform the South Side

The city’s transit agency is undertaking its biggest expansion ever to finally bring rail to the South Side.

November 24, 2023 - The Architect's Newspaper

Row of brick three-story townhomes in Britih Columbia.

More Affordable Housing for People, Less for Cars

Most jurisdictions have off-street parking requirements that increase motorists’ convenience but reduce housing affordability. It’s time to reform these policies for the sake of efficiency and fairness.

November 20, 2023 - Todd Litman

White and red Cruise self-driving car with "Self-driver in training" sign on back

Autonomous Cars Putting Strain on Local Governments

As the industry pushes ahead in fits and starts, local officials and first responders are scrambling to develop protocols for handling driverless vehicles.

26 seconds ago - The New York Times

Red fire engine on street in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Getting Buy-in for Road Diets From Fire Departments

Proposals to narrow streets often meet resistance from emergency responders concerned about safety and access.

1 hour ago - Strong Towns

Colorful brick apartment buildings with fire escapes in Chinatown, New York City.

A ‘Black Market’ for Short-Term Rentals Grows in NYC

While many owners are listing their rentals on other websites, others are moving them back to the long-term rental market.

2 hours ago - Curbed

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.