TARRYTOWN, N.Y. – New York State is moving forward with plans for a new Tappan Zee Bridge despite not being invited to apply for a $2 billion federal loan on Thursday.
New York Thruway Authority Spokesperson Andrew O'Rourke said the “early smart work” being done on the new bridge, including boring and pile driving, is still ongoing. The work is expected to provide data for bidders to design and build the bridge's foundation.
O'Rourke noted that if the winds are favorable, crews will begin sinking 10-foot wide and 180-foot deep tubes into the river bottom on Saturday so that samples of the soil and bedrock can be collected and analyzed.
The U.S. Department of Transportation did not invite the state to apply for a TIFIA loan on Thursday, although Spokesperson Bill Adams said it has been placed on a short list for when the department receives more funds from Congress.
O'Rourke said the state will release a financial plan sometime in the future, although he could not specify when that would be. O'Rourke also added that the state will reapply for a TIFIA loan and is “pursuing all other options.”
U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) issued a joint statement on Thursday saying they believe the federal government is keeping the door open for the new bridge.
"The Senate transportation bill that passed with a large bipartisan majority makes a significant investment in the TIFIA program," their statement said. "If the House agrees with that investment, the Tappan Zee has a good chance of being approved, and we hope the House will agree."
Kate Slevin, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, said in a statement the state's unsuccessful bid for a TIFIA loan would have been competitive if it included a public transportation component.
“The news means that the financing for the Tappan Zee Bridge is even murkier than before,” she said. “It also provides a great opportunity for the state to improve the project by including bus rapid transit. With bus rapid transit, the Tappan Zee Bridge project will be better for the environment, create more jobs and be better positioned for future federal loans.”
O'Rourke said the tubes will be elevated with a crane and dropped into a central hole on Saturday, when gravity will lower the tubes eight-tenths of the way into the river bottom. Crews will then work to hammer the tubes all the way in.
“It's like coring an apple,” O'Rourke said, explaining that once the tube is pulled out, crews will have a big sample of the river bottom to examine and analyze. The data “will enable the bidders to better know and ascertain where and when they have to place their footings.”
O'Rourke noted the footings, or the bridge's legs, will take up about a third of the new bridge's costs. The boring and piling project will continue into May and June, he said, with bidders submitting proposals by July 27.
O'Rourke said the state expects to make an award for the project in August.