New York Thruway officials reject request for $900 million to cover Cuomo bridge cost overruns

The New York State Thruway Authority has rejected more than $900 million in cost overrun claims filed by the construction firm responsible for the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.

USA Today Network New York reported Thursday that Thruway Project Director Jamey Barbas approved just $28 million of the roughly $960 million Tappan Zee Constructors sought for work on the Hudson Valley span that opened to traffic three years ago.

Full approval of the claims would have caused the $4 billion project’s costs to jump by about 24%.

TZC, a consortium of construction companies, has sought the funding for a couple years and eventually took the authority to court over the matter in February. The consortium claimed that such incidents as a tugboat accident and a crane collapse prompted additional spending, as did changes the authority made to the bridge’s design.

Barbas, though, disputed those claims.

“Their point of us interfering and accelerating – I felt we did neither,” she told USA Today. “We didn’t interfere. We did our job, which is oversight. We didn’t go outside the bounds of what the contract allows us to do in terms of our quality oversight.”

In its statement to USA Today, TZC said the state finally took a step toward resolving the cost disputes.

“TZC remains focused on reaching a fair and swift resolution of the outstanding payment matters with (the Thruway Authority), rather than continuing to draw out the claims process, which places an untenable cost burden on our companies and, ultimately, New York taxpayers,” said TZC, which consists of Fluor Enterprises Inc., American Bridge Company, Granite Construction Northeast Inc. and Traylor Bros. Inc.

The project that replaced the Tappan Zee Bridge has been under increased scrutiny this year.

In March, state Sen. Joseph Griffo, R-Rome, the ranking member on the Senate Committee on Investigations and Government Operations, called for a state investigation after an Albany Times Union report revealed a whistleblower case regarding the bridge.

In January 2016, a safety manager found defective bolts had been installed on the bridge. In April 2017, a firm hired by the authority to inspect the bolts determined that up to half of the 1 million bolts used during construction faced the risk of failing.

Even with that, the bridge opened to traffic in September 2018.

The Thruway Authority has said the bridge is safe and that experts found the bolts used were sound.

Committee Chairman James Skoufis, D-Cornwall, announced in late April the panel had requested records. In addition to the state Senate inquiry, the Assembly Judiciary Committee is looking into whether the Cuomo Administration withheld information about the bridge as part of its impeachment investigation.

This article was originally posted on New York Thruway officials reject request for $900 million to cover Cuomo bridge cost overruns

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