The New York Thruway Authority will release a finance plan for the new Tappan Zee Bridge this month or next.
Next steps will include finalizing the cost of the design-build contract for constructing the bridge, as well as closing on a federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan, authority chief financial officer John Bryan said at a Municipal Forum of New York luncheon on Friday.
The authority's plans place the financing of the bridge in the context of the authority's financial responsibilities for the entire Thruway and New York's canals, Bryan said.
Bryan said the bridge will be financed with debt backed by Thruway system revenues, although the agency expects incremental revenue from the bridge itself to cover the cost.
The authority expects the bridge to cost $4 billion.
Bryan said the full finance plan and cost estimates for the bridge would be available this month or next. However, he did announce a few features of the finance plan. The authority's debt for the new bridge will preserve senior debt service coverage rates of at least 1.6 times.
The bridge will be financed through a combination of a TIFIA loan and a general revenue bond.
The TIFIA loan's interest will not be due until after the construction is complete.
The revenue bonds will have maturities up to 40 years.
The authority will have exclusive control over the bridge's tolls, which Bryan said was a credit strength for the project.
Bryan said he expected the TIFIA loan to be closed and outstanding notes termed-out in July.
The timing of the sale of the revenue bonds depends on the TIFIA loan size, terms and drawdown schedule. It also depends on the project burn rate, he said.
The replacement bridge's northbound lanes are expected to open on September 2016. The authority expects to complete the bridge in 2018.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has passed the authority's request for a TIFIA loan through the preliminary review stage. The authority has said that the department has given preliminary approval for a $1.5 billion TIFIA loan. The department has suggested that the figure might be more like $1.33 billion.