Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday afternoon in Piermont that New York State is now closer to replacing the current Tappan Zee Bridge with a new, $5.2 billion span.
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 have long been asking for.
"The future of transit isn't people getting into cars and driving," Cuomo said. "It's mass transit. Period."
The new span is slated to house a dedicated bus transit lane during rush hour.
The governor recently blasted the proposed $14 toll hike in 2017 as excessive, but did not cite a specific figure that he would like to see—he only advocated a decrease.
From the New City Patch (8/20/12) 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 announced their decision to vote 'yes.'
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.
WHITE PLAINS – Construction industry association executive Ross J. Pepe briefed members of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors on Feb. 28 at the HGAR offices in White Plains on the plans being advanced by state and federal officials to build a new $5.2-billion Tappan Zee Bridge.
Pepe, president of the Construction Industry Council of Westchester & Hudson Valley, Inc. and the Building Contractors Association based in Tarrytown, said that if all goes according to plan a Design- Build contracting firm will be selected this summer and a Record of Decision reached by the end of August or early September with construction starting shortly thereafter. The project calls for the construction of a new bridge that would support mass transit at a future date.
Approximately 50 members of HGAR attended the joint session of HGAR’s Commercial Investment Division and its Legislative, Legal and Political Affairs Council.
After the session was completed, the Legislative, Legal and Political Affairs Council met to discuss the Tappan Zee Hudson River Crossing Project and approved a policy statement in support of the new bridge plan.
HGAR in its policy statement noted, ”Considering that building a new bridge is now among the highest infrastructure priorities at both the federal and New York State levels, that we have the commitments of the Obama and Cuomo administrations to commence the project, and that there is serious consideration of fundraising options by those parties, it does not make sense to risk all that by tacking on an untold number of years to plan and review the transit options. Our preference as an organization is that the project stay on its current fast track and in transit-capable mode.”
The Legislative Committee stressed that its position in support of the expedited plan “is not to be interpreted as a less than enthusiastic endorsement of the mass transit component, but rather a pragmatic seizure of an opportunity that may not reoccur. We do in fact strongly support mass transit, and we urge that every effort be made to start planning for it right now, so that a final configuration could be in place when the bridge construction is completed, if not sooner.”
The committee noted that prior studies have amassed a tremendous amount of information concerning a mass transit component on the new span. The committee stated, “The Federal Highway Administration and the New York State Thruway Authority and Department of Transportation should assist local governments in the I-287 corridor with program grants and other resources to complete the corridor study as a separate project. County governments in the corridor could perhaps be the coordinating entities; Westchester and Rockland both had advisory groups for the former project. In short, we recommend that there be two tracks, the mass transit capable bridge, and the mass transit redesigned I-287 corridor. Neither must wait for the other, the need is too urgent.”
Developments on the Tappan Zee Hudson River Crossing have come fast and furious. In fact, later in the day of the HGAR session was the first of two public hearings on the recently released Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the new bridge project that found no adverse environmental impact. The Feb. 28 public hearing was held at the Palisades Center in West Nyack. On March 1, a session was scheduled at the Westchester Marriott in Tarrytown.
Proponents of the project were expected to be out in force for the project that is expected to create more than 10,000 construction jobs and thousands of other jobs. Also predicted to have large contingents at the sessions are those that are pushing state and federal officials to have some form of mass transit (bus rapid transit or commuter rail) be part of the bridge project upon completion. Among those mass transit advocates are Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino and Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoeff.
On Feb. 7, the New York State Thruway Authority and the New York State Department of Transportation announced they had selected four design-build consortiums as qualified bidders for the new bridge project.
State officials reported that a request for proposals (RFP) would be issued to the four bidders in coming weeks. Thruway Authority officials noted that a total of five design-build partnerships expressed interest in the new Tappan Zee Bridge project, but only four were deemed qualified based on what they said was a “thorough multiagency technical review.” The identity of the firm not deemed qualified was not released.
The four groups that will be sent RFPS for the project are:
Hudson River Bridge Constructors
(a group including Dragados USA, Inc., Flatiron Constructors, Inc., Samsung C&T, E&C Americas, Inc., and Yonkers Contracting Company, Inc.)
Kiewit-Skanska-Weeks Joint Venture
(Kiewit Infrastructure Co., Skanska USA Civil Northeast Inc., and Weeks Marine, Inc.)
Tappan Zee Bridge Partners, a Bechtel/Tutor Perini Joint Venture
(Bechtel Infrastructure Corporation and Tutor Perini Corporation)
Tappan Zee Constructors
(Fluor Enterprises, Inc., American Bridge Company, Granite Construction Northeast, Inc., and Traylor Bros., Inc.)
In relation with the new bridge project, the New York State Department of Transportation announced that Trevcon Construction Company, Inc. of Liberty Corner, NJ was the apparent low bidder at $17.9 million for test pile installation across the Hudson River as part of the Tappan Zee Hudson River Crossing project. Work has already begun on the pile project.
Pepe explained that the design of the new bridge would either be an arch style or “cable-stay” with two towers. Both design options would be a twin span (two decks) each featuring four 12-foot traffic lanes (for a total of eight lanes), a left shoulder and emergency access, a right shoulder, and barriers along the decks’ edges. The left and right shoulders would serve as disabled vehicle lanes. The left shoulder would also provide emergency vehicle access. A bicycle lane would also be provided.
He also noted that the expedited project is being advanced under the “Design- Build” process, which was passed by the New York State legislature last year, where the private sector competes to offer the most innovative, cost effective designs for the new bridge. Rather than the state mandating a specific bridge design and construction method, qualified firms are now competing on their respective designs for the replacement bridge. The designbuild process permits an expedited construction schedule compared to traditional state contracting, and offers significant cost savings with less risk to state taxpayers of design changes and resulting cost overrun, state officials have said.
In October 2011, President Barrack Obama announced that the Tappan Zee Bridge project was one of 14 megaprojects across the nation to be fast-tracked in an expedited approval process. The project team, which includes the Federal Highway Administration, the New York State Department of Transportation and the New York State Thruway Authority (the owner of the bridge that connects Rockland and Westchester counties), are now working on the environmental approvals and design for a new span to be built just to the north of the existing structure. The project team issued a Request for Qualifications to interested contractors in November of 2011.
The Federal Highway Administration, which is now spearheading the project, rescinded the prior environmental studies that were underway, which included a number of designs for a new span as well as bus rapid transit and commuter rail to be possibly incorporated into the project. Cost estimates ranged from $8 billion to $16 billion for a full build-out that included commuter rail in a more than 30-mile study area that began in Suffern and ended in Port Chester. Instead, the new fast-tracked study now involves a little more than three miles from Nyack to Tarrytown, and is focused solely on building a new bridge that “does not preclude transit in the future.”
“Until last October, it would have been a safe bet that a new crossing would not be started or built for at least a five to 10-year period,” Pepe said. “The (prior) process that was engaged had reached nearly a decade with little movement to success.”
He charged that the prior study involved a 30-mile area and included bus and commuter rail options with little financing available to fund the nearly $20 billion project.
The expedited plan could allow a groundbreaking for this project to be held prior to Election Day in November.
Pepe said that under the new plan the state has been or will be applying for approximately $3 billion in federal (TIFA) loans and TIGER grants. The balance of the project will be financed via traditional bonding (likely to be issued by the bridge’s owner The New York State Thruway Authority) and toll increases. State officials have also said that pension fund and other private investment could be possible.
The New York State Department of Transportation has hired Jeffrey A. Parker Associates of Philadelphia to provide financial advice and analysis on the financing of the new span. A report on financing options is expected to be released soon.
Pepe later in the day was part of a press conference orchestrated by ReplaceTheTZBridgeNow. org, a statewide coalition of major employers, transportation professionals, civil engineers, and labor organizations representing more than 300,000 employees and 15,000 employers, in support of the expedited bridge plan.
In a press statement, Pepe said, “Based on the assessment of the project’s limited funding opportunities for the foreseeable future, the decision to exclude the complete build out of a mass transit program was a wise decision. Based on the reality of the funding that is now available, the new Tappan Zee Hudson River Crossing Project will not preclude the planning, design, construction or consideration of future transit modes through the TZ corridor. In other words, the final bridge design will not preclude future transit operations
Marketing Messaging: 6 Strategies to Turbo-Charge Your Website
Posted By susanne On January 8, 2012 @ 1:05 pm In Best Practices,Business Development,Coaching,Marketing,Real Estate Technology,Real Estate Training
With the arrival of a new year, now’s a great time to look closely at your website and evaluate what worked well in terms of bringing you the results you wanted as well as what didn’t work throughout the last 12 months. Here are six strategies that you should incorporate into your website to hit the ground running in 2012.
1. Make sure you have a strong MLS search tool on the front page of your site. Having an interactive search tool where the visitor can choose a specific town, price range and even property type can be a powerful way to compel them to want to click-through and access listings. Having an IDX-integrated search on the home page eliminates the need for buyers or sellers to click-through three or four levels just to view homes.
2. Double check that you are the point of contact on every listing when the visitor searches the MLS. If you are driving people to the MLS search, don’t forget that the name of the game is lead generation. Make sure they can ask for more information easily, schedule a showing or even share the listing with a friend in a matter of seconds, all while positioning yourself as the point of contact and keeping an eye on the activity.
3. Have specialized buttons right on the front page so that visitors to your site can get information for what they are specifically interested in. For example, take a look at http://hollimccray.com and you’ll see buttons dedicated to one-level living and for properties close to the downtown area of Knoxville.
4. Have a built-in blog within your site. Notice that I didn’t say HAVE a blog as your website like http://markspain.com/atlanta_real_estate_blog. Instead, take the time to create a blog that can be integrated within your site. This way your website has components for lead capture through search engines and your blog is working to add content and build relevance for the search engines. Make sure your visitors have the ability to retweet your information as well as share it on Facebook and other social media channels.
5. Have social media-share features on every single page in your website. People want to see information and then they want to “like” it or share it on their Facebook wall or on their Twitter account.
6. Have built-in email campaigns so that you can easily send specific emails to targeted groups. For example, let’s say you come across a great foreclosure deal and you want to let your foreclosure buyer pipeline know about it. Have the tools so that you can email the entire group within moments to let them know about the new listing.
Tricia Andreassen is the CEO/founder of Pro Step Marketing.
Between October 2010 and September 2011, the U.S. Small Business Administration backed more than $30 billion in loans nationally and $1.4 billion in New England alone.
While those numbers are unlikely to repeat themselves, there has been a continued strong demand for SBA-backed loans by businesses across Fairfield County and across the state three months into the organization’s 2012 fiscal year.
The robust demand is likely the result of several relatively new measures, including an increase in the maximum loan amount from $2 million to $5 million and a simplification of the CAPLines program, which is designed to help businesses meet short-term working capital needs.
Through the first quarter of the SBA’s 2012 fiscal calendar, which runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 31, the Connecticut office has backed 137 loans worth a total of $44.4 million compared with roughly 200 loans that were approved with SBA backing in the previous year.
“It looks as though we are ahead of schedule,” said Bernard M. Sweeney, district director of the Connecticut SBA office. “We’ve certainly done more minority loans in the first quarter than we did in all of last year, and that to me says an awful lot.”
Sweeney attributed the perceived annual drop in the number of loans to a huge surge in SBA lending activity that took place at the end of 2010, when a job stimulus bill temporarily increased the guarantee level on SBA-backed loans to 90 percent and waived a number of fees for loans made between September and December of that year.
Currently, the SBA guarantees 80 percent of sponsored loans that are for less than $150,000 and 75 percent of sponsored loans that are for more than $150,000.
The SBA’s two signature loan programs are its 7a Loan Guaranty Program and its Certified Development Company/504 Loan Program that targets businesses looking to construct, buy or renovate fixed assets, such as land, buildings and machinery and equipment.
While business and consumer confidence has risen over the past several months on steadily improving employment numbers and improving retail sales, Sweeney said banks are still lending conservatively and that as a result, there has been a consistent demand for loans with SBA backing.
“The banks are still looking for the enhancement on their loan and of course the SBA guarantee provides the greatest such enhancement,” Sweeney said.
Robert Polito, director of government-guaranteed lending for Webster Bank in Waterbury, said there is generally a higher awareness among Fairfield County business owners, leading to a higher demand for the various SBA loan programs.
“My sense is there’s a sophistication level here that might not be seen in such concentration levels as in other areas,” Polito said. “Because of that, the demand is going to be there for this type of lending.”
Webster Bank divides its clients into a small-business portfolio and a commercial banking portfolio. Among the small-business portfolio, SBA-backed loans represented roughly 14 percent of the total loans approved by the bank last year, Polito said.
“We would like that number to grow significantly for 2012. It would be wonderful to reach that 25 percent level for the portfolio,” he said.
During the SBA’s 2011 fiscal year, Webster Bank was the state’s top backer of SBA 7a and 504 loans and was the seventh-ranked SBA lender among New England financial institutions.
Polito said three areas that will drive SBA lending in 2012 include the organization’s budget flexibility, banks’ response to the October 2010 measure that increased the maximum SBA-backed loan value from $2 million to $5 million, and banks’ and businesses’ response to the simplification of the CAPLines program.
It has taken some time for lenders to get comfortable with the $5 million loan maximum, Polito said, but with 2012 may come a greater application of higher SBA-backed loans.
Additionally, Polito predicted that changes to the CAPLines program would result in a significant uptick in the number of businesses that take advantage of SBA backing of working capital lines of credit.
“In prior years the product was not even remotely used by SBA lenders because of the complexities,” he said. “What the SBA did was to drastically decrease the hoops you have to jump through to get one approved.”
Access to working capital lines are essential for local businesses, Polito said, predicting that SBA-backed loans under its CAPLines program would “significantly increase in volume for fiscal year 2012.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Christopher P. St. Lawrence
Telephone: 845-357-5100 Ext. 201
Town of Ramapo Hosts 85th Annual Daily News Golden GlovesSaturday, January 21, 2012 WHO:
Patrick J. Withers
Supervisor Christopher P. St. Lawrence and Councilmembers: Yitzchok Ullman, Patrick J. Withers, Daniel Friedman, Brendel Logan; Brian Adams, N.Y. Daily News Golden Gloves; BHG Rand Realty and Ireland’s 32WHAT:
Annual Golden Gloves Boxing Tournament, the oldest and
most well-known Amateur Boxing Tourney in the World. Bouts are to
be held in memory of Patrick Faherty, the late Suffern High School Principal.WHERE:
The Joseph T. St. Lawrence Community, Health & Sports Center
115 Torne Valley Road, Hillburn, New York 10931 WHEN:
Saturday, January 21, 2012 – Doors open at 2:15 PM – First Bout begins at 3 PM SPONSORED BY:
BHG Rand Realty, Ireland’s 32, Pannone Lopes Devereaux & West LLC, The Tisi Family, New York Daily News & Town of Ramapo ALL PROCEEDS TO:
Daily News Charities & Vietnam Veterans of Rockland County TICKETS:
Adults – $20.00, 14 & under - $10.00, Senior Citizens (60+) - $10.00 (cash only)
Tickets available at the door and pre-sale at Ramapo Town Hall in Supervisor Christopher P. St. Lawrence’s Office FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Phil Tisi at Town of Ramapo (845) 357-5100 or Brian Adams, NY Daily News Coordinator of Golden Gloves (212) 210-1932