New York takes first step in $5.2bn bridge rebuild

New York is closer to the reconstruction of the nearly six-decade old Tappan Zee Bridge with the launch of a Request for Qualifications for its design and build. Private sector funding is still tentative, but governor Cuomo signalled he would like to see pension funds get involved.

The state of New York has advanced its plans to rebuild the archaic Tappan Zee Bridge by issuing a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to design and construct a replacement for the 57-year old Tappan Zee Bridge.

The new bridge will be constructed in close proximity to the existing one, the latter of which will remain open to traffic during the construction period but will eventually be demolished. By one estimate, the reconstruction of the crossing commands a $5.2 billion capital investment.

To participate, the joint-state committees are requesting that interested firms submit a Statement of Qualifications by January 10, 2012. From those proposals, the authorities will narrow the submissions to a short-list of candidates. 

The project is essentially labelled a design-build effort although its exact structure remains contingent on state approvals. Precise terms continue to remain subject to an active environmental review process. A contract award is expected by August 2012 after which time the state is expected to allow a five-year period for the completion of the rebuild.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently stated his case for the use of private union pension money in financing the reconstruction of the Tappan Zee Bridge. The argument for pension participation has been gaining traction in the US and across Europe amid the heightened risk that financial institutions face from sovereign debt exposure.

For its part, the Tappan Zee Bridge was constructed in 1955 and was only designed to carry 100,000 vehicles per day, far below the 138,000 cars and trucks that use the crossing each day. The bridge stretches over the Hudson River in Tarrytown, New York, and reaches as far as 1,212 feet in height above the Hudson River.