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Howard Milstein, head of the Thruway Authority, gets award for securing new Tappan Zee Bridge
The bridge has not yet been built, but the accolades are already starting to come.
On Friday, New York State Thruway Authority chairman Howard Milstein received the Lifetime Leadership Award from the Regional Plan Association for his work leading the agency's efforts to build a new Tappan Zee Bridge.
In receiving the honor from the group, founded in the 1920s to provide a blueprint for the region's future growth, Milstein highlighted the state's efforts to secure a contract with Tappan Zee Constructors that he said was $2 billion less than expected.
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"Imagine that," Milstein told the lunchtime crowd at the Waldorf-Astoria in Manhattan. "A public works process and project coming way in ahead of schedule and nearly $2 billion under budget."
Milstein said his work shepherding along the Tappan Zee project had him at times soothing the fears of bidders who believed the project would flounder amid concerns about future toll hikes.
"At one point, the bidders got nervous because of the delays in decisions about bridge tolls in the future," said Milstein, who added that he had to personally sit down with each group to allay its concerns.
The authority has yet to say how high tolls will have to go to pay back the $4 billion cost of replacing the aging bridge. The authority intends to pay for the bridge with federal transportation loans and the sale of Thruway-issued bonds.
Milstein touted the Cuomo administration's decision to choose a contracting consortium that will design and build the new bridge. By doing so, Milstein said, the authority largely shifted the cost of delays and cost overruns onto the contractor.
"We have incorporated the private sector practice of strict deadline penalties and management requirements to remind the contractor that there are consequences -- in some cases amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars a day -- for not finishing on schedule," Milstein said.
Milstein, 61, is the chairman, president and CEO of Emigrant Bank. He was nominated by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to head the Thruway Authority in 2011.