(Reuters) - New York can build a new Tappan Zee bridge across the Hudson River now that the federal government has approved an environmental review for replacing the major commuter link, state and federal officials said on Tuesday.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, told reporters on a conference call the federal government could have prevented him from replacing the current, dilapidated bridge if it had rejected the environmental impact statement.
"This was the aspect of the project that had me holding my breath; I'm going to exhale today for passing this step," he said.
The new span north of New York City can now be built once a developer is chosen and the financing finalized. All three firms that bid on building it estimate it will cost less than $5.2 billion, said Howard Glaser, director of state operations.
The financing plan cannot be determined until the final price tag has been negotiated with the bidders, he said. A winning bidder will be chosen in the coming weeks.
New York is seeking a $2.9 billion loan from the federal government. After a public outcry over estimates that cash tolls would have to be nearly tripled to $14 to pay for the new bridge, Cuomo told officials to reduce that increase.
(Reporting by Joan Gralla; Editing by James Dalgleish)