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Rogue Barges to Cost Team $1M Monthly

Thursday, April 3, 2014

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One. Two. Three strikes, you’re out—out a million bucks a month, that is. That’s the warning to a construction team on a New York bridge project after its construction barges broke loose on three separate occasions.

The New York State Thruway Authority announced Monday (March 31) that it would withhold up to $1 million per month in project progress payments to Tappan Zee Constructors LLC, citing a series of incidents in which construction barges have broken loose from their moorings at the construction site.

TZC is a design-build team consisting of Fluor Enterprises Inc., American Bridge Company, Granite Construction Northeast Inc. and Traylor Bros. Inc.

Tappan Zee Bridge
NY State Thruway Authority

There are four dozen vessels in the Hudson River for the New NY Bridge construction; at least 100 are expected a the peak of the project.  After three barges broke loose within six months, the contractor is going to lose $1 million per month.

The team has been contracted to build the $3.9 billion New NY Bridge over the Hudson River, replacing the existing Governor Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge.

Loose Barges 'Unacceptable'

Sunday (March 30) marked the third time in about six months that a barge broke loose from the construction site. The barge traveled about two miles before being secured in the main navigation channel. No injuries or property damage were reported, and a full investigation is underway.

The other two incidents occurred Jan. 3, when two TZC subcontractor barges broke free during a winter storm; and Sept. 22, 2013, when a TZC barge broke free.

"Safety is our number-one priority on this project, and despite our repeated instructions to TZC to enhance mooring safety protocols, another barge broke loose on Sunday," said Peter Sanderson, New NY Bridge Project Director.

"This is unacceptable," Sanderson added. "Until TZC delivers a contractually required corrective action plan that can be reviewed and approved by our project team, we are going to withhold up to $1 million per month in project progress payments, as allowed under the contract."

New NY Bridge
TZC and HDR Engineering via New York State Thruway Authority

The $3.9 billion bridge project is expected to be completed in 2018. The existing bridge opened in 1955 and can no longer keep up with the amount of traffic it sees each day.

TZC currently has about four dozen vessels on the Hudson River and could have more than 100 vessels at the peak of the project this summer.

The company did not respond Wednesday to a request for comment.

Tracking Systems

The decision to withhold payment for future barge issues is in addition to recent boater safety enhancements announced for the Hudson River near the construction zone. Those enhancements include instructions to TZC to install GPS tracking systems on its barges, crew boats and other vessels.

According to the Thruway Authority, the system is being installed and tested and should be fully operational at the end of the month.

The GPS systems will include an "electronic security geo-fence" that will notify project safety and security teams if a marked vessel leaves the designated work zone. It will also include a map of the work zone so that the boating public can view vessel locations on the project website,

After the first two incidents, the Thruway Authority ordered a comprehensive review of TZC's safety, security and barge mooring methods.

construction barge tracking
New York State Thruway Authority

TZC is currently installing GPS tracking systems that will include an "electric security geo-fence" and will map the vessels for the boating public.

Several safety enhancements were recommended and have been or are being put in place, including:

  • GPS tracking for TZC vessels and barges;
  • New TZC adverse weather checklist;
  • Increased TZC Marine Security Patorls;
  • Enhanced training for TZC rigging crews;
  • Extended U.S. Coast Guard Regulated Navigation Area (RNA);
  • "Slow, No Wake Speed Zone" in RNA;
  • Proposed U.S. Coast Guard safety zone; and
  • New safety buoys and markers to be installed in river.

About the Project

After a decade of delays, construction for the New NY Bridge got underway in 2013. The $3.9 billion project includes a new twin-span bridge designed to last 100 years.

The existing toll bridge opened to traffic in 1955 and carries about 138,000 vehicles per day.

The first span is expected to open in 2016, and the entire bridge should be complete in 2018.

The Tappan Zee bridge will then be dismanted; its structural steel will be recycled; and concrete deck panels, which have been replaced in recent years, will be reused where possible on other Thruway and state Department of Transportation projects.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Construction; Contractors; Contracts; Department of Transportation (DOT); Enforcement; Government contracts; Health and safety; Project Management

Comment from Tony Rangus, (4/3/2014, 10:01 AM)

Wasn’t Fluor Enterprises Inc. involved with the SF Bay Area bridge fiasco (post tension rods)?

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