County executives from Rockland, Westchester and Putnam have announced they will be formally supporting the state's .
Their backing, the executives said, will help New York State in its efforts to get federal funding for the multi-billion-dollar project to replace the linking Rockland and Westchester.
That support comes after securing assurances from Gov. Andrew Cuomo that efforts will be made to ease the impact of likely toll increases, and ensure mass transit options are included in the new bridge.
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef and Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell said they reached their decisions only after meeting one-on-one with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The three will officially vote at the next New York Metropolitan Transportation Council (NYMTC) meeting to include the project in the region's long-range transportation plan.
"Bottom line, the bridge needs to be replaced," said Vanderhoef. "And if you're going to do that, ensure there's mass transit."
In addition, the governor and county executives agreed to establish a working group of Thruway, state, federal and local officials to examine ways to keep toll increases to the minimum necessary, including maximizing federal support, expanding discount programs for regional residents and financing mechanisms that lower the cost of credit and borrowing.
"I have been a strong supporter on the need for a new bridge but I’ve been equally strong on the need for some form of mass transit as a way to reduce congestion and pollution," Astorino said. "Under the framework we announce today, mass transit will not be an afterthought in the building of the bridge. With plans to have mass transit as part of the new Tappan Zee Bridge we’re not waiting five years to start thinking about it, we’re moving forward now."
Odell said she is supporting the project because the new Tappan Zee bridge will provide a jolt to the economic vitality of the region, with thousands of construction and engineering jobs and the increased commerce for the region.
"That's something that resonates with my Putnam constituents," she said.