SOUTH NYACK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – The federal government has signed off on the environmental review of the plan for the Tappan Zee Bridge, even though some details, including funding, are still fuzzy.

WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane On The Story

Thanks to a fast-tracking by the White House, a review process that usually takes six and a half years took less than one.

“The environmental review process, as you know, for constructing a bridge is probably the most difficult and complicated step. So, to complete the environmental review process and have the environmental review process and the product from the state accepted by the federal government is a truly significant milestone,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday.

Officially, the federal stamp of approval is called a “record of decision.”

“It doesn’t build the bridge. We still have to pick a contractor. We still have to work out the financing, but the environmental review is basically completed and that, from my point of view, was the most difficult step all along here,” Cuomo said. “Building the bridge is actually the easy part in some ways. Not that it’s an easy task, but relative to the environmental review, it’s a straightforward task.”

New York State Thruway Authority Executive Director Tom Madison said the review was completed without cutting any corners.

“We feel like we’ve taken extraordinary measures to ensure that all the necessary environmental protections have been considered,” he told WCBS 880 reporter Paul Murnane on Tuesday.

New York is looking for at least $2.5 billion in federal loans to fund the construction of the new span connecting Rockland County and Westchester County over the Hudson River.

Rep. Nita Lowey is among area elected officials looking for maximum federal financial help.

“Because the Tappan Zee has been declared a priority project, I feel confident that we will be successful,” she said.

“Let’s face it. This is a federal interstate artery. Whatever we need to do to move this along, we will do together,” Rep. Nan Hayworth said.

Right now a state panel is reviewing the final three proposals for the new bridge and the public may see them in the near future.

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