New York lawmakers to review Gov. Cuomo's transportation budget

Industrials Associated Press

There's new leadership at the New York Thruway Authority but no new answers for the state lawmakers who asked Thursday about how the state plans to pay for the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement.

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The $3.9 billion bridge now under construction is set to replace the aging Hudson River crossing between Westchester and Rockland counties. But the state has provided little information on what the eventual toll will be on the bridge.

Thruway Authority Acting Executive Director Bob Megna told lawmakers at a budget hearing in Albany that it's too early to release the financial plan for the bridge or speculate on the eventual tolls.

As part of his $142 billion state budget proposal, Cuomo has recommended setting aside $1.3 billion from recent legal settlements with financial institutions to prevent Thruway toll hikes for another year and to reduce tolls on the new bridge when it opens in 2018.

Cuomo has said the toll will be determined by several factors including final construction cost, federal funding, financing costs and state subsidies.

"As all of the pieces fall into place we will be able to come forward with a financial plan," said Megna, who was appointed to lead the Authority this month after serving as Cuomo's budget director.

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Some lawmakers — and many motorists — have long been frustrated that the Thruway Authority won't provide toll estimates for the new bridge, though figures of $9 and as high as $14 have been mentioned.

"We're finding it very difficult for the Thruway Authority to share information with us," said Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, a Democrat whose district is on the east side of the bridge.

Cuomo wants to spend $1.3 billion to prevent Thruway toll hikes next year and to reduce tolls on the new bridge when it opens in 2018.