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After months of controversy, the Thruway Authority today approved a $255 million loan to help fund a new Tappan Zee Bridge, saying the move will alleviate $35 million in financing costs and "keep tolls on the new bridge as low as possible."

The Thruway Authority's approval was expected after the project passed its largest hurdle last month, when the state Environmental Facilities Corp. approved the $255 million loan. The authority initially wanted a $511 million loan, but reached a compromise with the Environmental Facilities Corp.

The Thruway Authority is building a new $3.9 billion bridge over the Hudson River between Rockland and Westchester counties, and it's being aided by a $1.6 billion federal loan.

"The Thruway Authority remains committed to an unprecedented level of environmental protection on the New NY Bridge project," Thruway chairman Howard Milstein said in a statement.

"The EFC Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan approved by the Thruway board of directors today will support more than $255 million in measures to protect the Hudson River and mitigate environmental impacts of the project. By saving $35 million in finance costs, the loans will also help keep tolls on the new bridge as low as possible."

The Thruway Authority hasn't revealed the new toll structure on the bridge, which now has a $5 toll. But the loan, the agency said, will help limit the toll increase.

There's also speculation that some of $4 billion in bank settlements the state recently received will help pay for the bridge, which is set to be finished in 2018.

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