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Monster Crane Arrives At New Tappan Zee Bridge Project Site

PIERMONT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- One of the world's largest floating cranes has arrived at the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project site.

The 400-foot-long Left Coast Lifter — which has been nicknamed the "I Lift NY Super Crane" by officials in Albany — traveled from Jersey City, New Jersey, up the Hudson River, on Monday morning.

As WCBS 880's Peter Haskell reported, it has a 328-foot boom and dwarfs the nearly three dozen other cranes at the bridge.

Monster Crane Arrives At New Tappan Zee Bridge Project Site

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was on hand to welcome it Monday.

"I've never had a deep emotional connection to a crane before. But I want you to know that I truly am in love with this crane,'' the governor gushed aboard a boat in the middle of the Hudson River. "Any crane that saved the state of New York over a billion dollars, I love.''

The floating crane can lift 1,900 tons, or 12 times the weight of the Statue of Liberty. It had been in Jersey City since January, after it completed a 6,000-mile journey from San Francisco through the Panama Canal.

The $50 million Lifter was built in 2009 with a specific task in mind -- replacing the earthquake-damaged section of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. While in San Francisco Bay, the crane also lifted an old sunken tugboat from the bay bottom, helping to end an oil spill.

The crane will be used to replace the current bridge connecting Rockland and Westchester counties.

The new bridge will be built on land and assembled by the crane — a time saver that helped the contractors underbid their nearest competitors by $800 million, or about a quarter of the total project cost, CBS 2's Lou Young reported in January.

The new $3.9 billion bridge is slated to open in 2018. It's about 24 percent complete and about 65 percent of the piling has been installed, officials said.

The existing bridge, which carries about 140,000 vehicles daily, opened in 1955 and will be torn down.

Monster Crane Arrives At New Tappan Zee Bridge Project Site

Cuomo said how much motorists will pay to cross the new span is still up in the air.

"This is four more years of construction of this bridge and you need to know how much the bridge is going to cost before you know what the tolls are going to cost," Cuomo said. "Bottom line on the tolls is several variables: what is the actual cost of the bridge? What do you get from the federal government in terms of grants and loans."

Critics, however, say residents should know a lot more by now about how the project will be paid for and shouldn't have to just take Cuomo's word for it, Young reported Monday.

"We're asking for a number. We want to know how. We want to understand what the costs are going to be," said Rockland County Executive Ed Day.

Critics Want Answers On Tappan Zee Bridge Toll Cost

Across the river in Sleepy Hollow, Westchester County Executive and Cuomo's gubernatorial challenger, Rob Astorino, said commuters on both sides of the bridge need to know how much tolls will increase.

"We know they're going up, but he won't tell us by how much other than the rumors of $15," Astorino said. "Because there's no way that this bridge at this kind of cost can be paid for without at least doubling or tripling the tolls."

Currently, motorists pay $5, but only heading eastbound, Young reported.

But the governor insisted there are still too many unanswered questions to know for sure what the cost will be, Haskell reported.

"We're also fighting for federal funding and depending on what federal funding we get, that would then reduce the tolls," Cuomo said.

Astorino wants the state to use billions in bank fraud settlements to pay for the bridge.

Though Cuomo said there are more projects to fund statewide, he also raised the possibility of using revenue sources such as bank settlements and one-time cash infusions.

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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