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Cuomo: 'New TZ Bridge a Step Closer to Reality'

Local officials support push for federal funding.

said Monday in Piermont that New York State is now closer to replacing the current Tappan Zee Bridge with a .

The governor's announcement came hours after a unanimous vote by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council (NYMTC) to officially incorporate the project into the council's plan.

"Today we are one step closer to building a new, safer bridge that will revitalize the Hudson Valley by creating thousands of jobs," Cuomo said at the 1 p.m. gathering in Flywheel Park.

More than 100 residents and local, state and federal lawmakers gathered downtown, overlooking the Tappan Zee Bridge to the north and local marinas.

After a brief speech, Cuomo signed a letter to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, applying for billions of dollars in TIFIA federal loans to help finance the new span.

"The next step is going to Washington to get funding, so we can build the bridge and make tolls affordable," Cuomo said. "After over a decade of delay caused by political dysfunction, this letter demonstrates that we are making real progress towards constructing a stronger, transit ready bridge."

When asked what financing would be in place should the state be declined federal funds, Cuomo was terse.

"I'm an optimist," he said. "They're going to say yes."

Cuomo noted the importance of mass transit, a component local residents and officials .

"The future of transit isn't people getting into cars and driving," Cuomo said. "It's mass transit. Period."

The new span is during rush hour.

The governor the in 2017 as excessive, but did not cite a specific figure that he would like to see—he only advocated a decrease.

Cuomo said the sluggish push to build a new bridge over the past 13 years has been time—and taxpayer money—squandered.

"We decided to waste millions," he said. "We decided to put people through traffic and congestion and pollution. It was a failure of leadership, a failure of government."

NYMTC member and Rockland County executive C. Scott Vanderhoef voted alongside others this morning. Late last week, Vanderhoef and lawmakers from Westchester and Putnam counties

Vanderhoef said he is pleased to support the project on the heels of Cuomo's assurances that the new bridge is to include mass transit capabilities.

"The governor should be given great credit for making it transit compatible," Vanderhoef said. "I am very pleased to be supportive." 

Vanderhoef also said the federal government should assist New York with the financing of the new bridge connecting Westchester and Rockland. 

"This new bridge will be safer for our drivers and built to last, and include a dedicated bus lane on day one," said assemblyman Ellen Jaffee, D-Suffern. "It will be a major economic driver for communities across the region, creating approximately 45,000 jobs."

Cuomo said the state expects to hear back about federal funding in the coming months.

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