Several hundred thousand residents from Queens and Long Island to Westchester, both sides of the Hudson and from New Jersey and Connecticut all have a strong interest in seeing reconstruction of the Tappan Zee Bridge.
In the past, construction of any new freight, public transportation tunnel or bridge project takes decades by the time all feasibility studies, environmental reviews, planning, design, engineering, real estate acquisition, permits, procurements, construction, budgeting, identifying and securing funding is completed. This is before the project reaches beneficial use.
Based on previous planning initiatives, some have estimated a cost for replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge ranging from $14 to $18 billion. This also could have included options of adding either Bus Rapid Transit, Light Rail or Heavy Commuter Rail capacity. Not paying for any of these options today, could be penny wise and pound folish tomorow. It might cost far more money decades later to construct any public transportation component to an existing bridge. What was the basis of the new $5 billion estimated cost? The anticipated final potential cost will never be known until design and engineering is complete. This cost will be further refined by award of construction contracts followed by any unforeseen site conditions and change orders to the base contracts during the course of construction. It is difficult for anyone at this point to really predict when we will see a shovel in the ground, followed years later by completion of this project or the final price tag to taxpayers.
Perhaps the only real dedicated funding source for fully funding reconstruction of the Tappan Zee Bridge is raising the toll with additional revenues placed in a lock box to cover costs.