Government Groups Debate Approval Of Clean Water Funds for TZ Bridge Use
New York State is in a position to be able to use a possible $511 million of a low interest/no interest loan by the Environmental Facilities Corporation from the Clean Water Revolving Fund for use in certain aspects of the new Tappan Zee Bridge project if the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gives the go-ahead and the State Thruway Authority signs on.
The $511 million, part of a total $3.9 billion reconstruction project, would be used to pay for various environmental projects, not relating to bridge construction, according to NYS Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens who supports use of the loan.
Projects earmarked include $1.2 million to restore oyster beds on the Hudson Riverbank, $29.9 million to armor the river bottom with sand and gravel and $48 million for a bubble curtain and other noise protections for fish while construction is underway.
While the decision is still out, various groups have expressed their opinions on each side of the issue.
The NYS Environmental Facilities Corp, which manages the fund, recently released a statement announcing approval of a $256 million short-term loan for environmental protection projects in the Hudson River.
“It is legal and proper to use the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund to protect the Hudson River, its wildlife and wildlife habitats during the construction of the New NY Bridge. This is a revolving loan fund and, like all of the loans approved by the Environmental Facilities Corp., this loan will be repaid and then recycled to benefit other clean-water projects across the state. These low-cost loans save money, improve the environment and create jobs. This year, EFC expects to approve well over $1 billion in loans for new clean-water projects in more than 100 communities and we are ready and able to do the same next year and we look forward to working with the Thruway Authority and PACB to proceed with the second installment of the New NY Bridge loan in 2016,” Matthew J. Driscoll, president and CEO of the NYS Environmental Facilities Corp. is quoted on the EFC website.
A letter in opposition to the loan was recently issued by the Westchester Municipal Officials Association, comprised of local mayors and town supervisors in Westchester County who regularly experience flooding and other water issues in their communities.
In a statement July 15, White Plains Mayor Tom Roach, Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano, Mount Vernon Mayor Ernie Dais and New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson indicated the letter sent by the WMOA president did not reflect the opinions of the association’s complete membership and was merely a consensus of the association’s executive committee.
Mayor Roach, vice president WMOA, in an interview Monday, said he is one executive member not in support of a negative opinion on the loan.
The joint mayor’s statement of July 15th concludes: “Significant environmental protection measures are being taken in connection with the project. These are essential but also contribute to the overall cost and will ultimately have an impact on bridge tolls. This loan would reduce overall project costs, thereby reducing the impact on tolls. We therefore believe it is worthy of serious consideration by the Public Authorities Control Board.”