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Tappan Zee Remains Sunk for Artificial Reef

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

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Pieces of the old Tappan Zee Bridge will be supporting a new kind of life: Concrete and steel from demolition of the span were sunk 2.4 miles south of the Moriches Inlet, located in New York, on Saturday (Aug. 25) to create an artificial reef.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo spearheaded the $4 billion Tappan Zee Bridge project, which will replace the old Tappan Zee that spanned the Hudson River from 1955 to 2017. The remnants of the old span—11,000 tons of recycled steel and concrete—are being used to expand the state’s artificial reef program.

A Bridge Afterlife

According to The New York Times, the function behind the endeavor is twofold: Disposing of the old bridge parts this way is both affordable and practical, while also providing new habitats for marine life. Currently, New York state maintains 12 artificial reefs: two in Long Island Sound, two in the Great South Bay and eight in the Atlantic Ocean. Six of these will receive pieces of the old bridge. The span’s steel trusses may also be used to build up the reefs.

All materials were cleaned thoroughly before being submerged. The cost of transporting the materials covered by the New York State Power Authority and Tappan Zee Constructors, the team of private contractors building the replacement bridge.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation noted that expanding Long Island's artificial reefs would help increase the amount of sea life, as well as improve commercial and recreational fishing.

"Once materials settle to the sea floor, larger fish like blackfish, black sea bass, cod and summer flounder move in to utilize the habitat, and encrusting organisms such as barnacles, sponges, anemones, corals and mussels cling to and cover the material," the DEC said.

The artificial reef practice dates back to 1949, and according to the DEC, the recycled material will become a habitat “similar to a natural reef.”

The old Tappan Zee carried nearly 140,000 vehicles a day at its peak. Eventually, the span began to show its age, warranting extensive repairs. Cuomo proposed naming the replacement bridge, a pair of modern spans, after his father, former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, last year.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Government; Historic Structures; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management

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