Tappan Zee Bridge plans move ahead but where’s the money?

It’s hump-day, which means it’s production day at the Westchester County Business Journal, so I will keep this one short and sweet.

Yesterday the New York State Thruway Authority announced the four finalists selected to bid on the Tappan Zee Bridge rebuilding contract. The announcement comes just over a week after the state released its draft Environmental Impact Statement.

With these new developments, the Thruway Authority (which owns the bridge) and its state and federal partners have accomplished something that eluded previous administrations: that is, they have kept their promise – so far. As it stands, project coordinators still expect to award a contract by July or August and still expect construction to begin on a new bridge by the end of this year, which would be a major achievement given the length of time we have had to wait so far to see any progress whatsoever.

Now, it is time for the governor to let the public know how the bridge will be financed. With an expected price tag of $5.2 billion, the public and the four finalists are entitled to know the nitty-gritty details. In his budget address, Gov. Cuomo said funding for a new bridge would come from “authorities.” Which authorities? State or federal? Will the funding be new or will it come out of existing budgets?

Until we hear those details, I will continue to be skeptical of the governor’s plan. A new bridge is necessary and will be a huge boost to the entire region’s economy. But money doesn’t grow on trees and even the popular Mr. Cuomo can’t pull $5.2 billion out of a magic hat.

NY State Racing and Wagering Board not consulted in Cuomo bet

BREAKING NEWS FROM ALBANY: This just in – Gov. Andrew Cuomo reportedly did not consult the New York State Racing and Wagering Board before betting 46 cases of Greek yogurt, 46 dozen bagels and 46 cheesecakes that the New York Football Giants would win the Super Bowl. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has no comment                        

The wager – made between Cuomo and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick – will net Cuomo 46 Centerville Pies, 46 cases of ‘Food Should Taste Good’ chips, and an undetermined amount of Legal Sea Foods clam chowder should the Giants top the Pats. (Cuomo said he would donate his winnings to the Food Bank Association of NYS).

If you ask me, Gov. Patrick is getting the better end of this, but it’s all a moot point if the G-Men come home with the Lombardi. Lets Gooooo Giants!

NY mulls minimum wage hike — State grant recipient sued — Incomes rise 0.5% in Dec.

Good Monday morning! Inside Track is back after a bit of a hiatus and looking leaner: we’re going to try to keep our daily posts under 300 words so you can get the news and get on with your day.

LEADING OFF: NY Assembly Democrats, led by Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), are pushing to raise the state’s minimum wage 17 percent, from $7.25 to $8.50. Thus far, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has reserved comment, but is expected to support such a measure.

PERSONAL INCOME UP: Income rose 0.5% in December, the Commerce Department reported today, the strongest growth in nine months, while consumer spending was unchanged from November to December.

SAN-MAR SUED: San-Mar Laboratories Inc., based in Elmsford, is being sued by a supplier after receiving a $5 million state grant last fall. See this story and more Westchester business news at Westfair Online.

QUICK HITS: Florida holds its Republican presidential primary tomorrow, where Mitt Romney has opened a double-digit lead in the polls over Newt Gingrich; the Federal Reserve last week said it would extend its commitment to keep rates low through 2014, underscoring the continued fragility of the U.S. economy; a federal judge last week set June 26 as New York’s primary date; the Senate is likely to vote on Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s insider trading bill this week.

UPDATE: Tappan Zee Bridge review to be expedited

Today, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that President Barack Obama has put the Tappan Zee Bridge project on the fast-track for federal review.

In a statement, the governor’s office said:

“With this expedited federal review of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and the processing of certain permits, the Tappan Zee project could begin as early as next year, potentially creating more jobs than any other infrastructure project in the country.”