By Peter Rudegeair
(Reuters) - Three highly distinctive designs for a new Tappan Zee Bridge spanning the Hudson River in New York were unveiled on Wednesday, ranging from designs that resemble two pairs of tuning forks, a regatta, and a cream-colored version of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge.
The New York State Thruway Authority unveiled the proposals for a new bridge connecting Westchester and Rockland counties north of New York City to replace the existing Tappan Zee, which was built in the 1950s and is now in poor condition.
Proposal 1, which looks like side-by-side tuning forks, is the least costly at $3.1 billion and earned the endorsement of a selection committee making recommendations to the Thruway Authority Board, which is to choose a design on December 17.
"Best looking and most cost-effective," said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, describing Proposal 1 at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
The selection committee's endorsement was based on price, bridge lifespan, construction schedule and environmental effects, according to Brian Conybeare, a special adviser for the project.
Proposal 2, which looks a bit like the Golden Gate, has an estimated cost of $3.990 billion, and Proposal 3, which resembles a crowd of sail boats racing in one of the regattas often seen on the Hudson, is estimated at $4.059 billion.
Proposal 1 also has the shortest construction time frame, at just over five years, meaning the new bridge could be completed before 2019.
With any of the three options, there would be $600 million to $800 million in additional costs related to project finance, management, oversight, contingencies and aesthetic improvements, Conybeare said.
In the hopes of insuring the massive transportation link reflects the beauty of the Hudson River Valley, Cuomo in September named a team of six artists to advise the selection team, including sculptor Jeffrey Koons and Metropolitan Museum of Art director Thomas Campbell, a tapestries expert.
The names of the design firms that created each proposal were not released by the state.
(Reporting by Peter Rudegeair; Editing by Leslie Adler)