Low-Cost Loans Will Support Thruway Authority Efforts to Protect River Habitats and Wildlife in the Hudson River Estuary, Help Keep Bridge Tolls Low
Albany, NY (June 16, 2014)
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced today that the New York State Environmental Facilities Corp. (EFC) will make up to $511.45 million in low-cost loans to the New York State Thruway Authority for environmental protection and Hudson River restoration projects related to the New NY Bridge project to replace the Tappan Zee. Along with the $1.6 billion Transportation Infrastructure Financing and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan last year from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the EFC loans will help keep tolls on the new bridge as low as possible.
The loans will be made from EFC’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) , which is used to support construction expenses that align with the environmental standards including those outlined in the New York-New Jersey Estuary’s Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan. The EFC loans will go toward environmental projects that will protect water quality and marine life in the Hudson River estuary, including protection of endangered sturgeon, oyster beds and other habitats, during and after construction of the New NY Bridge.
“As we continue to see progress on the New NY Bridge, it is essential that actions are taken to protect wildlife and address the project’s environmental impacts – but in a way that doesn’t overburden taxpayers and drivers,” Governor Cuomo said. “This $500 million low-cost loan will reduce the financial burden of these necessary environmental measures, and enable the Thruway Authority to continue moving full-steam ahead on this important project.”
The $511.45 million in EFC CWSRF financing – including a no-interest loan of up to $256 million and a low-cost loan of up to $256 million– will help the Thruway Authority fund costs associated with stringent environmental measures that have been put in place during the construction of the new bridge and the demolition and removal of the existing bridge, and with the protection of the estuary environment throughout the entire project.
The EFC loans will help keep any potential future toll increases down by greatly reducing the interest rates and financing costs for a significant portion of project’s overall $3.9 billion estimated cost.
“Governor Cuomo tasked all of his infrastructure agencies to break down the silos that have prevented cooperation and cost savings in the past and, instead, go forward with innovative solutions to finance critical state infrastructure,” said EFC President and CEO Matthew Driscoll. “I am delighted that EFC through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund can simultaneously protect the Hudson River Estuary and keep costs down for travelling motorists.”
EFC is the financing arm of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration that provides low-cost loans to local governments and agencies for drinking water, wastewater infrastructure and other clean-water projects. Last year, EFC financed close to $2 billion in clean-water investments statewide and, as the operator of the nation’s largest State Revolving Loan funds, EFC is known for administering one of the best and most-innovative clean-water loan funds in the nation.
Last year, EFC became the first State Revolving Fund in the nation to finance a clean energy program using its borrowing power under the Clean Water Act. By directly financing the environmental projects in the Hudson River Estuary, New York State will be undertaking the largest series of estuary protection and enhancement projects in the nation ever financed by the CSWRF. Never in the 25 year history of the CWSRF have projects of this magnitude been undertaken to benefit a federally designated Estuary of National Significance.
No other project or request for financing will be impacted by EFC’s loans to the New NY Bridge project. This year, EFC is on target to finance more than 100 infrastructure projects across the state with loans worth more than $1.3 billion.
EFC recently added five more CWSRF projects in New York City for a total of $92,896,872 – part of the more than $400 million in CWSRF financing for New York City in the current federal fiscal year.
The Thruway Authority is expected to draw funds from the EFC loan starting in August.
Environmental projects to be financed through EFC and the CWSRF include:
- Restoration of Piermont Marsh
- Oyster bed restoration
- River bottom armoring
- Stormwater treatment at landings
- Underwater noise protection (bubble curtains) during pile driving
- Dredging and mound removal
- Dredge material disposal
- Removal of the existing bridge
- Shared use path for pedestrians and bicycles
- Endangered Peregrine Falcon nest box relocation
- Net conservation benefit plan (Atlantic sturgeon)
- Channel Restoration of Gay’s Point
Construction on the New NY Bridge began in October, 2013. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership and with the support of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT )and other federal agencies, environmental review for the project was completed in just 11 months, much shorter that is typical for projects of this complexity and magnitude. Extensive measures will be in place throughout the duration of the project to protect the environment and to monitor the impact of construction on surrounding communities.
When completed, the New NY Bridge will mean less congestion for motorists, with eight traffic lanes, four breakdown/emergency lanes, and state-of-the-art traffic monitoring systems. Designed and constructed to be mass-transit-ready, the new crossing will be able to accommodate bus rapid transit, light rail or commuter rail. The twin-span bridge will also include a bike and pedestrian path.