Potential Tappan Zee bridge construction hits snag over federal financing; could affect sourcing requirements
A replacement for the Tappan Zee Bridge project is slowly moving forward, at a projected cost now estimated at roughly $6 billion. One issue of note is whether reliable, American-made components will be used in the new bridge's construction, or convesely, if the eventual project might repeat the unfortunately outsourced example set by the Oakland Bay Bridge.
As Stephanie Cohen is reporting in BNA [subscription required], New York State had asked the federal government for $2 billion in funding toward the bridge from the Department of Transportation. However, the DoT has "passed over" New York's request, which leaves at least one-third of the bridge's funding undetermined.
A major ramification, though, of New York potentially not using federal funds is that the state would not be required to follow Buy America preferences. As Cohen explains:
Without federal funds, New York may need to turn to private equity to finance the bridge. Such a move could eliminate the requirement to abide by Buy America provisions and open the door to foreign-based suppliers.
Outsourcing of such a major infrastructure project would be both disappointing and unnecessary. Cohen quotes Roger Ferch, the president of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), who says that the steel needed for a proposed, new Tappan Zee bridge would only require only 5-10% of current U.S. steel capacity. This means that America's steel foundries could easily produce whatever steel might be required.
Financing for the bridge is "more uncertain than ever," according to Cohen. But as the project moves forward, it will be important to watch for how and where the bridge's structural components are sourced.
Here's to hoping that a modern Tappan Zee Bridge eventually gets built, and with the use of American-made steel. Read more about Buy America preferences.
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