From the Morning Memo:

The first lanes of the replacement for the Tappan Zee Bridge will open this week — a three billion dollar project and a marquee infrastructure project for New York.

“It’s obviously huge for the state’s economy,” said Mike Elmendorf, the president and CEO of the Associated General Contractors. “The Tappan Zee Bridge is a major project, it’s created and supported a lot of jobs in our industry, but beyond that it’s a vital avenue for commerce and people moving around the state.”

But what about the rest of the state? Elmendorf says more, less glamorous work is needed to shore up the Thruway system. Elmendorf urged top officials at the Thruway Authority earlier this year to focus on road repairs, noting more than 600 of the 809 bridges on the system are more than 60 years old.

“It’s a system that was built basically all at the same time 60 years ago to last 50 years,” he said. “You don’t need to be an engineer to know you have a system that’s aged out. You have pavement that’s aged out. You have bridges that have aged out.”

And that may require the politically unpopular move of a toll increase to pay for it.

“Nobody likes tolls,” he said. “No governor likes to see tolls go up on their watch, no legislator likes tolls. But at the end of the day, they have to happen. When you keep your thumb on them and you keep them down artificially, they do go up and they go up a lot.”

For his part, the governor has said tolls from throughout the system will pay for the new bridge, being named in honor of his father, the late Governor Mario Cuomo.

“We have used cash to pay for part of the bridge over the last two years and the remainder after 2020 will be paid with toll revenue from the entire system,” Cuomo told business leaders in New York City last month.

And the bridge’s opening is also considered a major milestone, considering the prolonged discussion over the Tappan Zee’s replacement.

“That’s why one of the first acts for me was, I know they said they were going to do the Tappan Zee Bridge for 20 years,” Cuomo said, “we’re atually going to do it.”