As New York State moves forward to replace its longest bridge, it received a key piece of funding when a state board voted to approve a $255 million loan from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund.

The sum was half of what the State Environmental Facilities board approved last month, but the state is expected to seek the remaining loan funds at a later date.

What was a supposed to be a fairly routine approval process generated significant attention when environmental groups began opposing the use of funds earmarked for environmental protection and restoration being applied to bridge construction.

State Senator John DeFrancisco of Syracuse, who sits on the three-member state Public Authorities Control Board, also threatened to derail the loan approval by voting no if a more complete financial plan for the bridge construction wasn’t made available, including any plans for Thruway toll hikes.

While he ultimately voted to approve the decreased sum, we support Sen. DeFranciso’s call to make the new Tappan Zee Bridge’s financial plan public.

Unshackle Upstate fought tooth-and-nail to defeat a proposed Thurway toll hike in 2012 that would have instituted a so-called “modest” 45 percent toll increase on all trucks.

Last week Tom Madison, the Thruway Authorities Executive Director, hinted that another attempt to increase Thurway tolls may be on the horizon. Unshackle Upstate and our partners will again do everything in our power to block this toll increase and to hold those who push for it accountable.