Sunday, August 24, 2014

Projected Tappan Zee Bridge Tolls withheld by Obama administration in legal violation of Freedom of Information Act requests, sent single blacked out page to recent Tappan Zee FOIA request-Journal News

8/23/14, "Tappan Zee tolls: Feds ignore appeal for estimates," Journal News, by Theresa Juva-Brown

"Officials are required to respond within 20 business days. Appeal was filed in June."

"Federal officials continue to remain silent on whether they will release key documents that contain future toll estimates for the Tappan Zee Bridge.

In December, the state Thruway Authority secured a $1.6 billion low-interest loan from the federal government for the $3.9 billion bridge replacement project.

Earlier this year, The Journal News filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain the financial section of the state's loan application to the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program.

U.S. Department of Transportation officials, after consulting with Thruway leaders, denied The Journal News' request in May, arguing that releasing "hypothetical toll revenues and financing scenarios both for the Project and for the entire NYSTA system" could damage the Thruway's credit rating and increase its borrowing costs.

The Journal News filed an appeal in June and officials acknowledged it June 10. A public agency has to answer an appeal within 20 business days, according to law.

As of Friday, it had been 52 business days. Several DOT officials assigned to the case did not respond to emails last week.

The delay has prompted The Journal News to seek help from the Office of Government Information Services, a federal agency that oversees Freedom of Information Act policies and compliance. Nikki Gramian, deputy director of OGIS, said she is looking into the matter.

The Journal News is not the only organization seeking financial details on the Tappan Zee project. Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a mass-transit advocacy group, recently received a single blacked-out page in response to its request for the same documents.

"We've been asking for the financial plan, and we think they should make it public," said Vincent Pellecchia, general counsel for Tri-State. "Not being able to see it is frustrating.""

Image: "A recent view of the Tappan Zee Bridge and ongoing construction on the replacement span. Photo: Theresa Juva-Brown/The Journal News.


6/26/12, "Faulting a Plan to Replace the Scorned Tappan Zee," NY Times, Peter Applebome

"It was unloved from the start, built on the cheap, located improbably at the broadest stretch of the Hudson River, its improvised design derided by its own engineers as “one of the ugliest bridges in the East.”"...Tappan Zee Bridge map from NY Times. 


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