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Tappan Zee Consortium Files Lawsuit

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

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Last month, Tappan Zee Constructors, the consortium responsible for the construction of the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, filed a lawsuit against the New York State Thruway Authority. In the lawsuit, TZC wants the judge to have the Authority hand over internal records that would validate its claim that TZC is still owed $900 million in extra costs accrued during construction.

According to the Times Herald-Record, court records indicate that both entities are at odds over finances. The Cuomo Bridge—also known as the Tappan Zee Bridge—runs over the Hudson River and connects Tarrytown and Nyack.

Bridge Project History

The new Cuomo Bridge consists of twin cable-stayed spans, each stretching 3.1 miles total, with a 1,200-foot-long main span. The first of the two new spans opened in August 2017, at which point demolition of the old Tappan Zee began; parts of the old bridge were scuttled in the sea near Long Island to create artificial reefs in 2018. The original Tappan Zee Bridge was a 3-mile-long cantilever bridge opened in 1955.

Ultima_Gaina / Getty Images

Last month, Tappan Zee Constructors, the consortium responsible for the construction of the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, filed a lawsuit against the New York State Thruway Authority. In the lawsuit, TZC wants the judge to have the Authority hand over internal records that would validate its claim that TZC is still owed $900 million in extra costs accrued during construction.

The first of the new spans was converted to handle westbound traffic only after the newer, eastbound span opened to traffic; traffic had been traveling in both directions on the one span for the past year.

The Tappan Zee project has been touted as the largest bridge construction job in the state’s history, and managed to remain largely on schedule and on budget. According to the New York State Thruway Authority, which has overseen the project, the construction required 14 miles of main span cables, 300,000 cubic yards of concrete and 200 million pounds of American-made steel.

The design-build team behind the bridge, Tappan Zee Constructors, includes Fluor, American Bridge, Granite Construction, Traylor Bros., HDR, Buckland & Taylor, URS and GZA.

In mid-September 2018, the opening of the bridge’s second span was delayed after a piece of the old Tappan Zee Bridge became unstable and threatened to fall. At the time, the Tappan Zee was being disassembled. Later that same month, after the opening of the second span was delayed twice, a paper trail revealed that Tappan Zee Constructors was concerned about whether the job could be completed on time, even after the opening date was pushed from Aug. 24 to Sept. 7.

Last December, a number of steel bolts used in the construction of the Mario Cuomo Bridge broke apart during the building process, according to reports. There are also allegations that some in leadership positions tried to cover up the issue.

Recent Lawsuit

Additionally, the construction group alleged that the Authority was illegally blocking access to a number of budget documents associated with the project. In turn, however, the Authority accused the consortium of pushing the allegations as a move to better its own negotiation position. Currently, both entities are attempting to figure out who is responsible for what in terms of cost.

“The project remains within its $3.98 billion budget and the claim filed by the contractor is obviously nothing more than an ineffective negotiating tactic,” said Authority spokesperson Jennifer Givner.

The suit also claims that the documents in question were first requested over a year ago. According to Albany Business Review, TZC is seeking contingency budget reports; correspondence between the Thruway Authority and the governor’s office; and written agreements with consulting firm Pegasus-Global Holdings Inc., as well as the chair of its board of directors.

Attorneys working on behalf of TZC also reportedly filed the records request in April 2018. The lawsuit claims that the subsequent delays and unclear responses violated the Freedom of Information Law.

Though both bridge spans are currently open to traffic, construction continues on a path for pedestrians and cyclists. The underwater foundations of the old bridge are also still being dismantled.

   

Tagged categories: Bridges; Infrastructure; Lawsuits; NA; North America; Ongoing projects; Program/Project Management; Project Management

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