Editorial: Congress gives Tappan Zee a boost
VideosResidents' concerns addressed at Tappan Zee meeting Tappan Zee Town Hall Special - Part 1 Tappan Zee Town Meeting - Part 2
Congress approved a $120 billion transportation bill Friday, almost three years and nine temporary extensions after the last one expired. It's about time.
The measure will provide 27 months of stable funding to create jobs and enable highway and transit repair and replacement projects across the country. And it could give a big boost to the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project.
The bill will pump money into the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, a loan program Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will try to tap for the project, which is currently projected to cost $5 billion to $6 billion. He'll ask for $2 billion, but a loan closer to $1 billion is more likely.
Also included for New York State annually is $1.6 billion in highway aid and $1.4 billion for public transit. Aid for mass transit survived nationally, despite an unfortunate attempt by House Republicans to gut it.
Congress didn't act a moment too soon. The bulk of the bill is financed by the 18.4 cent-a-gallon federal gasoline tax, which was due to expire last Sunday. Lawmakers appointed to reconcile Senate and House bills found an imperfect but workable compromise.
For instance, Senate Democrats gave up money set aside for alternatives such as pedestrian and bike paths. And House Republicans dropped their insistence that the bill mandate construction of the Keystone Oil Pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.
Stable funding is good. A new Tappan Zee would be great.