This story has been updated with comments from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.
TARRYTOWN, N.Y. – Plans to build a new $5.2 billion Tappan Zee Bridge unanimously were approved Monday morning by the nine-member New York Metropolitan Transportation Council.
The key vote means the bridge project will be able to receive federal money. State officials have said they plan to apply for a $2 billion federal loan. In April, the U.S. Department of Transportation left the bridge out of a round of federal aid because it was waiting on additional money from Congress.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a letter of intent to apply for federal funding Monday after the council voted, saying the state was one step closer to building a safer bridge.
“After over a decade of delay caused by political dysfunction, this letter demonstrates that we are making real progress towards constructing a stronger, transit-ready bridge that will reduce congestion and be safer for drivers for years to come,” Cuomo said.
The proposal includes building twin spans about 300 feet north of the existing Tappan Zee Bridge between Westchester and Rockland counties. The state is awaiting a final decision from the Federal Highway Administration on the recently-released final environmental impact statement . Officials also are reviewing three construction bids for the project.
The special meeting came after Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, Rockland County Executive Scott Vanderhoef and Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell publicly backed the project last week. All three executives are voting members of the council, which includes representatives from the state, New York City, Suffolk County and Nassau County.
“We are moving forward,” Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino said, “unified in our commitment to give our counties, state and country a bridge that creates jobs, strengthens our economy, protects the environment and leaves a legacy we can be proud of.”
Scheduling of the key vote had been protested by environmental advocacy group Riverkeeper because officials announced the meeting three days in advance and the state has not yet released a detailed financial plan for the project.
“State officials have repeatedly promised the public a transparent and inclusive process for the proposed new Tappan Zee Bridge,” the group said in a statement. “It’s impossible to square that promise with this last-minute decision to call a special meeting for Monday morning.”