NY bridge design worth $3.1 bln chosen; toll hikes off table

New York Mon Dec 17, 2012 6:59pm EST

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New York Dec 17 (Reuters) - The New York Thruway Authority selected a $3.1 billion proposed design for the new Tappan Zee Bridge on Monday and decided to cut expenses rather than raise tolls next year.

Thruway board members picked the least expensive of three proposals to replace the aging 1950s span across the Hudson River north of New York City. The winning design resembles two pairs of tuning forks.

The proposal now goes for review by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who said in a statement that the proposal provides "New York toll payers the biggest bang for their buck."

Separately, the board approved a 2013 budget that does not include any toll hikes. The board had been considering a proposal to increase tolls on large commercial vehicles, but not passenger cars.

DiNapoli said in a statement that he was "gratified" that the authority decided to drop the idea of toll hikes on commercial vehicles.

"Imposing a large toll increase would have hurt consumers and businesses at a time when many New Yorkers are struggling to recover from the recession," he said.

Instead, the authority is focusing on operational cuts. By eliminating 361 positions from 2011 through 2013, it will have trimmed its workforce by 6 percent. Lay-offs are not planned, a spokesman said.

Overall, the authority is also reducing costs, with plans to cut a total of $100 million through 2014, as well as a $300 million reduction in its capital plan through 2015.

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