This story was updated at 3 p.m.
NYACK, N.Y. – The Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project has cleared its federal environmental review less than a year after the process began, state officials announced Tuesday at the bridge maintenance facility in Nyack.
The Federal Highway Administration signed and issued its record of decision, approving the state's plans to replace the 3-mile bridge between Tarrytown and Nyack and ending the environmental review process.
The decision means the bridge project is now eligible for federal funding. State officials have applied for a $2.9 billion federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan and say they will pursue other federal funds as well in the $5.2 billion bridge project.
"With this major milestone, New York once again is demonstrating that we can make government work efficiently and effectively for the people of the state, and we can take a large step toward building a safer, better and more reliable bridge,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.
Tuesday's announcement also clears the way for state and federal construction permits, said Thomas Madison, executive director of the New York State Thruway Authority. State officials released a final environmental study on the proposed bridge in August, less than a year after President Barack Obama put the project in the fast-track lane. The nine-member New York Metropolitan Transportation Council approved the project in August as well.
The new bridge will include two parallel structures about 300 feet north of the existing Tappan Zee Bridge. Officials are currently reviewing three bids on the bridge submitted in July.
National and state representatives praised the bridge project Tuesday, calling the speedy approval process a product of bipartisan cooperation and Cuomo's “extraordinary leadership.”
“This would not have happened," said Joan McDonald, commissioner of the state Department of Transportation, "without the extraordinary leadership of Gov. Cuomo and it would not have happened without the extraordinary and unprecedented level of cooperation between state and federal agencies. This project clearly demonstrates that when everyone is working together, great things are possible.”
Typical projects of this nature would normally take an average of six and a half years, Madison said.
Officials also praised the new bridge's impact on the economy and regional transportation.
"A new Tappan Zee Bridge is critical to move people and goods safely and efficiently throughout our state and the region,” U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-Harrison.) said. “Today's signing is a hugely important step on the road to better transportation options for residents of Westchester and Rockland Counties and others.
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