New York officials announced Tuesday that the state's plan for a new span to replace the current Tappan Zee bridge has been approved by the Federal Highway Administration.
The approval is the last step in the review of the project's environmental impact, and the state can now move forward with implementing a plan to build the bridge.
"With this major milestone, New York once again is demonstrating that we can make government work efficiently and effectively for the people of the state, and we can take a large step toward building a safer, better and more reliable bridge," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.
The environmental review of the bridge replacement project was accelerated after the project was fast-tracked by President Obama in October 2011, and all required steps in the process have been completed.
The next step is to choose developers to design and build the replacement bridge. The New York State Thruway Authority received bids from three teams in July, and, more recently, Cuomo announced a review team of artists and architects that will help choose the final bridge design.
A financial plan for the bridge has still not been finalized. New York has applied for a $2.9 billion loan from the federal government and the Thruway Authority has said the project will be financed through toll-backed bonds.
The authority also estimated that cash tolls would have to increase to $14 in order to pay for the project, but Cuomo told officials to find a way to reduce that increase.