The Governor Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge opened to traffic in 1955 and is a vital artery for residents, commuters, travelers and commercial traffic. The bridge, which was designed to carry up to 100,000 vehicles per day, currently handles an average of 140,000 vehicles daily, and traffic congestion and delays are regular occurrences. Heavy traffic, narrow lanes and the lack of emergency shoulders often contribute to congestion and frustration for motorists. As a result, the bridge has twice the average accident rate per mile as the rest of the 570-mile Thruway system. In recent years, hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent to maintain and repair the bridge. If the current bridge were not being replaced, the Thruway Authority would need to spend an additional $3 billion to $4 billion over the next 20 years to ensure its structural integrity.
The existing bridge has only seven lanes, some of which are narrower than the current standard lane width of 12 feet. The new bridge will have eight, 12-foot-wide lanes and wider shoulders. The shoulders of the new crossing will greatly reduce the traffic impact of disabled vehicles and accidents, which can cause massive tie-ups on the existing bridge. The incline approaching the main span will not be as steep, allowing large trucks to maintain consistent speed and reduce engine and braking noise. The ability of trucks to maintain highway speed will also reduce speed differential with passenger vehicles which lessens lane changes and potential for accidents. There will also be gently banked curves to further smooth traffic flow and reduce accidents. In addition, the new bridge is being built with space to accommodate dedicated bus lanes. In April 2016, cashless tolling went into effect on the existing bridge, and this will be a feature of the new bridge, eliminating the need for eastbound drivers to slow down or stop and idle at a toll plaza.
The completed twin-span bridge is scheduled to be fully opened in 2018.
The New NY Bridge is being built to last 100 years before any major structural maintenance is required.
The bridge is being designed and built by Tappan Zee Constructors (TZC), a consortium of some of the world’s best-known and most highly regarded design, engineering, and construction firms, including Fluor, American Bridge, Granite Construction and Traylor Bros., along with key design firms HDR, Buckland & Taylor, URS, and GZA. TZC is working closely with a team of employees from the Governor’s office, the New York State Thruway Authority and the state Department of Transportation.
The project cost is $3.98 billion.
The Thruway Authority closed on a $1.6 billion, long-term, low-interest loan through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Infrastructure Financing and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program in December 2013, the largest loan in the history of the program at the time. During the past two years, $2 billion in bank settlement funds have been committed to support Thruway capital improvements and help pay for the New NY Bridge project. This funding will also freeze tolls on the entire Thruway system until at least 2020. While the state continues to seek innovative funding options, the remainder of the cost of the new bridge will be financed with Thruway Authority bonds.
No. Governor Cuomo has frozen tolls at current levels until at least 2020 and has called on the Thruway Authority to establish a resident discount program for drivers living in Rockland and Westchester counties.
The new twin-span bridge will have eight general traffic lanes—four in each direction. Space will also be provided for disabled vehicles, emergency responders and bus rapid transit. There will also be a shared-use path for bicycles and pedestrians.
Traffic will be transferred to the new twin-span bridge in phases. Upon completion of the westbound span, traffic will be temporarily shifted there from the existing bridge. At 96-feet-wide, the westbound span will temporarily accommodate eight lanes, four in each direction. At this point, the landings of the old Tappan Zee Bridge will be torn down so the eastbound span landings of the new bridge can be constructed. Following completion of the span, eastbound traffic will then be permanently shifted off the westbound span onto the eastbound span. Upon full completion, each span will have four general traffic lanes (all 12-feet-wide), breakdown/emergency access lanes, and space to accommodate dedicated bus lanes. The westbound span will include a bike/pedestrian path.
While there have been many renaming suggestions from the public since construction began, at this time there are no plans to remove the historic “Tappan Zee” moniker.
The current Tappan Zee Bridge will be carefully dismantled using the I Lift NY super crane and other equipment, and the structural steel and concrete deck panels will be repurposed or recycled wherever possible.
Yes. Bicyclists and pedestrians will enjoy a 12-foot-wide shared-use path on the northern side of the new westbound span. The path will also have six scenic overlooks, called belvederes.
Jamey Barbas, P.E., is the Project Director. Ms. Barbas has more than 30 years of experience in bridge design, construction and inspection with a special emphasis on complex and long-span bridges. She is an expert in leading major infrastructure projects and in alternative delivery methods such as design/build.
Design-build is an alternative to the traditional construction method of “design-bid-build.” Under a design-build contract, the contractor that builds the structure is also responsible for the development of the design. Design-build shifts much of the financial risk to the contractor. Design changes under the design-bid-build system often lead to project delays and cost overruns that are borne by taxpayers and toll payers.
The new bridge will have space for dedicated express bus lanes for bus rapid transit from the time it opens in its final twin-span configuration. The new bridge is also being built with the structural capacity to handle rail in the future. A Mass Transit Task Force studied short, medium and long-term options, as well as potential funding sources. The task force proposed its recommendations in early 2014.
Bus rapid transit (BRT) is a state-of-the-art bus system recommended in the short term by the Mass Transit Task Force. The BRT system—known as the Lower Hudson Transit Link—will provide frequent, direct service and feature enhancements designed to get more drivers out of their cars including, faster travel times, on board wi-fi, real-time bus arrival information and simplified payment systems. The state Department of Transportation is overseeing its implementation.
The new cashless tolling system—implemented on the Tappan Zee Bridge in April 2016—allows motorists to pay their toll while maintaining highway speeds. The system, which will also be part of the new crossing, collects tolls via E-ZPass and tolls by mail, detecting classes of vehicles and applying the correct charge. If you have E-ZPass, your toll is collected using the same process that you are already familiar with. If you do not have E-ZPass, cameras photograph your vehicle’s license plate as it passes under the overhead equipment. A bill is then automatically sent to the registered owner by U.S. Mail. Learn more at NewNYBridge.com/CashlessTolling.
The New NY Bridge will include several measures to deter suicides. In addition to increasing the existing number of crisis hotline phones, the new spans will feature climb-deterrent fencing on all bridge edges. A new high-tech video surveillance system will also be installed and monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The most recent estimates for a tunnel under the Hudson put the cost at $8 billion and included a construction period that would exceed that for a new bridge. Because of the topography in the region, a tunnel would have to be seven to eight miles long (compared with the 3.1-mile new bridge), and a substantial amount of private property would have to be taken in both Rockland and Westchester counties. Unlike the New NY Bridge—which will utilize the same basic landing areas on both sides of the Hudson River as the current bridge—a tunnel would require new connections to be built where it meets the Thruway (I-87/I-287) in Rockland and Westchester. The objective to facilitate potential future rail would have additional complexities for a tunnel solution.
The Community Benefits Program is a $20 million fund made up of equal contributions from the Thruway Authority and Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC. Projects eligible for consideration are those that maintain and enhance natural assets, local infrastructure, safety, recreational opportunities, and quality of life for communities in Rockland and Westchester counties. The program will be available through 2017. For more information on how to apply, please visit the Community Benefits Program page.
The loudest construction activities, such as pile-driving, are limited to daytime hours (7 a.m. to 7 p.m.), are not allowed before noon on Saturdays, and are prohibited entirely on Sundays. Additionally, construction activities cannot produce noise levels of 70 decibels or above between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Twenty-four-hour noise and vibration monitors post information to the project website, and a 24-hour hotline (1-855-TZ-BRIDGE) is available to report excessive noise. The builder, Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC, has one hour to mitigate the noise-causing activity above allowed levels. If the activity continues after that time, the Thruway Authority project manager can shut down the operation.
Twenty-four-hour air quality monitors are located throughout the construction area with real-time results posted on our website. The contractor is required to use the most stringent (EPA ‘Tier 3’) dust and diesel particulate filters on its construction equipment.
In construction as well as design, the New NY Bridge team has worked diligently to reduce the environmental impacts associated with the project. Examples include relocation of thousands of live adult oysters to preserve the shellfish population, tagging of Atlantic sturgeons to track and monitor as they pass through the construction zone, and falcon nest boxes on the old and new bridge. To learn more about our commitment to environmental stewardship, visit the FEIS page on the New NY Bridge website.
The Thruway Authority and Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC have established a partnership with the New York State Department of Labor to get as many local workers hired on the project as possible. To find out about employment opportunities, visit the New York State Department of Labor website.
The New NY Bridge project maintains two community outreach centers near the project site. Located in downtown Tarrytown and Nyack, and open seven days a week, the centers provide a window into the largest active bridge and highway project in the nation. If you are interested in seeing the construction progress firsthand, you can visit the Westchester viewing platform at Tarrytown’s Scenic Hudson RiverWalk Park or the Rockland viewing platform at Memorial Park. The project’s day-by-day progress can also be tracked from the comfort of home, thanks to online construction cameras situated at various vantage points on and around the project site.