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Assemblyman Tom Abinanti Opposes $511 Mil. Tappan Zee Bridge Project Loan

Headwinds are building against a controversial $511 million loan - that would be financed by a state clean water fund - to help pay for the $3.9 billion Tappan Zee Bridge rebuilding project.

Assemblyman Tom Abinanti Opposes $511 Mil. Tappan Zee Bridge Project Loan
New York State Assemblyman Tom Abinanti has come out against using the state's clean water fund to finance a $511 million loan to help pay for the $3.9 billion Tappan Zee Bridge rebuilding project.

"The cost of preventing or mitigating harm to the environment should be included in the actual cost of bridge construction," said Abinanti in a statement. "The State should not be hiding the true cost of the project in an environmental fund that is dedicated for other projects."

Using the clean water fund to finance the loan has come under scrutiny by some environmental groups, but a construction trade organization has also garnered support for the move. 

Despite the support, whether the loan moves forward remains an open question. Reporter Jon Campbell of The Journal News writes that at least one important state senator, Syracuse Republican John DeFrancisco, wants to see a  "full financing plan" before he signs off on it. 

Below is Abinanti's press release and full statement:

Assemblyman Tom Abinanti (D-Greenburgh/Mt. Pleasant) has announced his opposition to the proposed $511 million loan from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (the Clean Water Fund) to the New York State Thruway Authority to pay for its Tappan Zee Construction Project.

 

In a statement issued today, Assemblyman Abinanti argued that the State should be maximizing clean water projects, not diminishing the number of projects by diverting monies from the Clean Water Fund.

 

He also argued that it is inappropriate to use monies intended to remedy existing damage to the Hudson River to pay for activities that will further damage the river.


Finally, Assemblyman Abinanti argued that the proposed use of the Clean Water Fund will create a hidden taxpayer subsidy for the cost of construction.

 

“The cost of preventing or mitigating harm to the environment should be included in the actual cost of bridge construction,” said Abinanti. “The State should not be hiding the true cost of the project in an environmental fund that is dedicated for other projects.”

 

Several environment advocacy groups have already voiced their opposition to the proposed loan.

 

Assemblyman Abinanti’s full statement follows:

 

I represent the section of the eastern shore of the Hudson River which extends north and south of the Tappan Zee Bridge. This area of the Hudson River is the area that will suffer the most environmental disturbance as a result of the construction of the two new bridge spans.

 

While I am concerned that the disturbance of the river should be minimized and any impacts mitigated, I oppose the proposal for the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) to loan $511 million from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (the Clean Water Fund) to the New York State Thruway Authority for its Tappan Zee Construction Project.

 

I join with several environmental advocacy groups who have already articulated the reasons why the unprecedented use of clean water funding is inappropriate.

 

First, the proposed use of the Clean Water Fund will diminish the monies available for appropriate uses. The Clean Water Fund was designed to assist localities in upgrading wastewater treatment facilities and restore the New York Harbor and Hudson River. Diverting $511 million, even if only for a few years, will diminish the number of appropriate projects and defeat the intended purpose of the fund.

 

Second, the proposed use of the Clean Water Fund will use monies intended to remedy existing damage to the Hudson River to pay for activities that will further damage the river.

 

Third, the proposed use of the Clean Water Fund will create a hidden taxpayer subsidy for the cost of construction. The cost of preventing or mitigating harm to the river, caused by bridge construction, should be paid for by Thruway Authority users and included in an appropriate financing package for the bridge construction. Just as we insist that private developers be responsible for environmental impacts, we should hold the State to the same standard. Using an interest free loan from the environmental fund masks the true cost of the project. It is inappropriate to transfer part of the actual cost of bridge construction from the users of the Thruway system to the taxpayers by using interest free an environmental fund that is subsidized by the taxpayers.

 

I oppose the use of the Clean Water Fund for bridge construction.

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