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New Tappan Zee Span Set to Open

Monday, August 21, 2017

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The first span of the new Tappan Zee Bridge—now known as the Mario Cuomo Bridge—will open Friday (Aug. 25), marking a major milestone in the $4 billion project, under construction since 2013.

The Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, which will ultimately comprise a set of two cable-stayed spans across the Hudson River between South Nyack and Tarrytown, New York, will begin accepting traffic overnight Friday. Initially, four lanes of westbound/northbound traffic will move to the new span; this fall, four more lanes heading in the opposite direction will be added, allowing for the complete closure of the old Tappan Zee.

Gov. Mario Cuomo Bridge
Images: New York State Thruway Commission

The old Tappan Zee Bridge (right) will be replaced by two twin cable-stayed spans as part of the $4 billion project.

The original Tappan Zee Bridge is a 3-mile-long cantilever bridge opened in 1955. Built during materials shortages during the Korean War, the bridge, the longest in New York state, was constructed with a 50-year service life, and by the mid-2000s was facing serious deterioration. In recent years, the bridge has carried 140,000 vehicles per day, according to the New York State Thruway Authority.

New Bridge Details

The new bridge will be a 3.1-mile set of twin cable-stayed spans. Each will have a 1,200-foot-long main span, with staying cables extending from chamfered towers that reach 419 feet above the water. A total of 192 cables will hold the two spans, ranging from 190 to 623 feet long. Each cable is made of intertwined metal strands surrounded by a polymer gel for corrosion protection, and sheathed with a ribbed protective casing to protect against vandalism, weather and other potential issues.

Mario Cuomo cables

A total of 192 cables will suspend the twin spans from eight towers.

The bridge will carry eight dedicated traffic lanes, as well as a bicycle and pedestrian path with belvederes for rest and sightseeing. The southbound/eastbound span will measure 87 feet in width, while the northbound/westbound span will be 96 feet wide.

When traffic from both directions is moved to the first of the two new spans this fall, four lanes of traffic in each direction will be separated by a concrete barrier. Traffic patterns will be adjusted to their permanent alignment in 2018 when the second span opens.

According to the Thruway Authority, more than 6,300 people have worked on the project.

Project Safety

The megaproject has touted a largely clean safety record over the period of construction, but the bridge made headlines in July 2016, when a crane fell across six lanes of traffic on the old Tappan Zee. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the lead contractor, Tappan Zee Constructors, and issued a proposed fine of $12,675 over the incident, which investigators said stemmed from a corroded clamp on a vibratory hammer being used to move a partially driven pile.

Tappan Zee span nearing completion

One of the two spans will begin to accept traffic this Friday night.

That fine is currently being contested by the contractor, according to OSHA’s online enforcement database.

The new bridge was referred to as the New N.Y. Bridge until June, when the state legislature voted to name the structure for Cuomo, the late former governor and father of current Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Some residents expressed dismay at the name, with a preference for keeping the Tappan Zee name.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Construction; General contractors; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management

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