A hoped-for source of funding for the replacement of the Tappan Zee bridge, which crosses the Hudson River north of New York City, with a pair of new spans has failed to materialize. The $4 billion infrastructure project has spawned creative uses of financing as politicians seek to hold down an inevitable increase in tolls. At issue here is the use of a loan of more than $511 million sought from the Environmental Protection Administration, a Federal agency.
In a detailed letter, the EPA dissected New York’s request, actually based on 12 discrete projects, and found that most of the request (worth some $488 million) was in the “construction” category, and therefore did not meet the criteria of the Clean Water Act. Included among the disqualified projects was $110.2 million for dredging and another $65 million for removal of the existing 1950s vintage bridge span.
The huge undertaking has also run afoul of Riverkeeper, an environmental group which prodded the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation to shut down a staging area further up the Hudson. Tappan Zee Constructors, a consortium building the new bridge, was found not to have necessary permits for building a facility where sections would be pre-assembled then loaded onto barges to be floated approximately 100 miles down the Hudson to the construction site. Local AIS showed the tug PILGRIM (owned by Tappan Zee Constructors) on station near a prep site close to the location of the new spans. The vessel was built in 2013 by Tell City Boatworks.
In addition to awards last year, RFP’s are outstanding for towing services and for barges.