SENATOR BALL WORKS TO DEVELOP LEGISLATION TO FUND TRANSIT ON TZ BRIDGE VIA PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP
Mount Kisco, N.Y. – 9/21/2012 – On Friday, Senator Greg Ball (Patterson – R, C) along with the Business Council of Westchester hosted a Public-Private Partnership Roundtable focused specifically on how public-private partnerships can fund transportation projects such as the new Tappan Zee Bridge project.
On August 20, 2012, Governor Cuomo submitted a letter of interest to Ray LaHood, United States Secretary of Transportation, to secure federal financial support for the new Tappan Zee Transit Ready Bridge Project. According to Governor Cuomo’s letter of interest, New York plans to use a mix of toll revenue bonds, Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) credit assistance, and pay-as-you-go revenues, and is prepared to pursue any additional federal support that may become available to fund the Tappan Zee Transit Ready Project costs. Assuming TIFIA-eligible Project costs of $5.0 billion and $5.9 billion, and using the maximum 49% allowable amount, would result in a TIFIA loan of $2.4 billion and $2.9 billion under the two cases.
According to a presentation titled, “Building a “New “New York Bridge” offered by the Governor’s office and that is available at www.newnybridge.com, the future Bus Rapid Transit portion of the new Tappan Zee Bridge could cost between $4.6 Billion and $5.1 Billion. The Bus Rapid Transit portion offered in the Governor’s plan could be supported by public-private partnership legislation that would allow New York to partner with the private sector to finance, design, and build this portion of the bridge in the future.
On Friday, Senator Greg Ball welcomed over 35 leaders from the business, union and public sector to a roundtable to discuss the potential of utilizing public-private partnership legislation in New York State to better enable partnerships between the state and the private sector that will allow for the financing, design and building of the Bus Rapid Transit portion of the Tappan Zee Bridge and other similar transportation projects.
According to the nationally recognized public private partnership experts who were present at the roundtable, 35 other states have used public-private partnerships to finance, design, build and manage public infrastructure projects such as the Tappan Zee Bridge. If similar partnerships are used in New York State, the Bus Rapid Transit portion of the Tappan Zee Bridge could be completed and would transform the economy in the Hudson Valley.
“At this moment, New York State does not have adequate legislation for public-private partnerships, but hopefully we will see some change in legislation this year,” said Richard Norment. “The Tappan Zee Bridge is a perfect example of what I have been talking about. If the state used the private sector to fund this project it would lessen the load and not put a drain on the taxpayers.”
The Tappan Zee Bridge mass transit project is estimated to generate more than 45,000 new jobs and will make it much more affordable to travel to and from work, shopping, visiting friends and family.
“New York is the capitol of capital and our current inability to proactively fund vital infrastructure projects, small and large, is simply inexcusable. Public-private partnerships (P3’s) would better enable New York to finance public work projects, such as the transit portion of the Tappan Zee Bridge, while reducing the burden on federal, state and local taxpayers as well as commuters and ratepayers,” said Senator Greg Ball. “We live in a powerful state that is home to the greatest financial market in the world. The search for federal debt based funds and our clamoring to finance the transit option on the Tappan Zee Bridge is symptomatic of a previous lack of both creative thinking and innovative finance models. It’s time to change all of that by supplying the Governor with these new helpful tools.”
Mr. John Ravitz, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Business Council of Westchester, said, “We support the concept of private public partnerships as another tool to help us create economic development in Westchester County and we look forward to continuing to have a strong line of communication with Senator Ball in this area.”
“This is a vital program for the economy, infrastructure and people of New York State. Public-private partnerships are a great opportunity that those in other states have but we in New York state don’t have the opportunity to participate in,” said Ross J. Pepe, the President & CEO of the Construction Industry Council of Westchester& Hudson Valley, Inc. “We are thrilled to be able to participate with the Senator in drafting this legislation.”
“Since before my election, I have advocated for public-private partnerships, as a means of reducing government costs, and increasing government efficiency,” Assemblyman Robert Castelli said, “I compliment Senator Ball on taking this initiative and I join with him in pursuing it further to help keep New York open for business.”
According to the four transportation public private partnership experts at the roundtable, these types of partnerships in New York can spur economic development and allow funding for government facilities and infrastructure projects while lowering the tax burden on residents.
Shirley Ybarra Senior Policy Analyst, Reason Foundation and Former Secretary of Transportation for Virginia participated in the roundtable to add her expertise to the discussion. Ms. Ybarra authored Virginia’s Public-Private Transportation Act of 1995, which is considered the model public-private partnership legislation in the United States and also one of the first broad PPP legislation passed.
“In Virginia we have a number of projects that are already completed as well as projects that are currently in progress,” said Shirley Ybarra. “I am here today to help craft this legislation in New York State to make sure that the legislation is crafted the way that the Senator expects, and so we can get it through the legislature.”
George Miller of Mayer Brown and also a New York resident led the Denver FasTracks Eagle P3 engagement, the 34-year concession to build and operate a portion of a commuter rail line in Denver. The rail project was named 2010 North American Transport Deal of the Year by ‘Project Finance Magazine’ and the Regional Deal of the Year by ‘The Bond Buyer’.
“I am honored to be involved in this roundtable. As a New Yorker I am confident, having worked on a number of these projects in other states and seeing the benefits, that New York, with the right legislation, can assume the leadership it deserves and that the people of New York deserve,” said George Miller.
Parker F. Williams of Transportation for Affiliated Computer Systems (ACS) also participated in the roundtable. Mr. Williams has over 25 years of public and private sector transportation experience.
“I am here today to help support this initiative to introduce public-private partnership legislation, which is something we are very in favor of, as an organization,” said Parker Williams. “Any time an elected official is willing to bring the public together on a difficult public policy issue, it is always a positive thing.”
Senator Greg Ball closed the meeting by saying, “It’s time to remove the barriers and limits and allow New York to be the Empire State Again. We must take the lead on public-private partnerships to build our future and to put New Yorkers back to work!”
Friday’s transportation roundtable will be followed up by a Social Infrastructure Roundtable (Public School and Municipal Facility Construction) hosted by Senator Ball and the Business Council of Westchester. The Social Infrastructure Roundtable will take place on Thursday, October 11th from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM at the Mt. Kisco Library.
For more information or to speak with Senator Ball, please contact Joe Bachmeier at (845) 200-9716.