The Tappan Zee Bridge opened to traffic in 1955 and, until its retirement on October 6, 2017, was a vital artery for residents, commuters, travelers and commercial traffic. The bridge, which was designed to carry up to 100,000 vehicles per day, handled an average of 140,000 vehicles daily, and traffic congestion and delays were regular occurrences. Heavy traffic, narrow lanes and the lack of emergency shoulders often contributed to congestion and frustration for motorists. As a result, the bridge had twice the average accident rate per mile as compared to the rest of the 570-mile Thruway system. In the last decade, hundreds of millions of dollars were spent to maintain and repair the bridge. Had the bridge not been replaced, the cost of maintaining the bridge would rival the costs of a new bridge, with none of the benefits.
The Tappan Zee Bridge had only seven lanes, all of which were narrower than the current standard lane width of 12 feet. The new twin-span Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge will have eight wider general traffic lanes and shoulders. The shoulders of the new crossing will greatly reduce the traffic impact of disabled vehicles and accidents, which caused massive tie-ups on the old 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. There will also be gently banked curves to further smooth traffic flow and reduce accidents. In addition, the new bridge is being built with dedicated bus lanes that have been shown to reduce travel times for all vehicles. In April 2016, cashless tolling went into effect, eliminating the need for eastbound drivers to slow down or stop and idle at a toll plaza.
The new 3.1-mile twin-span bridge will have eight general traffic lanes — four in each direction. Space will also be provided for disabled vehicles, emergency responders and buses. There will also be a shared-use path for bicycles and pedestrians.
When will eastbound traffic temporarily located on the westbound span of the new bridge be transferred to its eastbound span?
The westbound span of the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge is temporarily accommodating eight lanes of traffic, four in each direction. Following completion of the eastbound span later this year, each span will have four general traffic lanes, breakdown/emergency access lanes, and a dedicated bus lane. The westbound span will also feature a bike/pedestrian path and six scenic overlooks.
Yes. Bicyclists and pedestrians will enjoy a 12-foot-wide shared-use path on the northern side of the westbound span. The path will also have six scenic overlooks. Construction on the path will begin after eastbound traffic is shifted onto the eastbound span later this year.
The Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge is being built to last 100 years before any major structural maintenance is required.
The project cost is $3.98 billion.
The bridge was designed and is being built by Tappan Zee Constructors (TZC), a consortium of 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.
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 Design-Builder is responsible for the construction as well as the design. Design-build often provides more cost certainty than traditional “design-bid-build.”
The Thruway Authority secured 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 project. This funding has also frozen tolls on the entire Thruway system until at least 2020. 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.
Implemented for the Tappan Zee Bridge in April 2016, cashless tolling allows motorists to pay their toll while maintaining highway speeds. The system, which now serves the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, 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 bridge will have dedicated bus lanes in its final twin-span configuration. The new bridge is also being built with the structural capacity to handle rail in the future.
Hudson Link is an enhanced bus service across the new bridge that will replace the Tappan Zee Express later this fall. The system features state-of-the-art vehicles that will provide frequent, direct service and feature enhancements designed to get more drivers out of their cars, including faster travel times, wi-fi, real-time bus arrival information and simplified payment systems.
The Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge will include several measures to deter suicides. In addition to increasing the existing number of crisis hotline phones, both 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.
Tappan Zee Constructors (TZC) began dismantling and removing the Tappan Zee Bridge following its retirement in October 2017. TZC’s efforts primarily involve cutting and dividing sections of steel and concrete into manageable sections. TZC then uses barge-based cranes, including the project’s super crane, to remove these sections and place them on floating barges for transportation. Many concrete materials and steel trusses will be repurposed or recycled. Pieces of the old bridge will be used to bolster 12 artificial reefs off the shores of Long Island.
The most recent estimates for a tunnel under the Hudson River 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 bridge — which utilizes the same basic landing areas on both sides of the Hudson River as the Tappan Zee Bridge — a tunnel would require new connections to be built where it meets the Thruway (I-87/I-287) in Rockland and Westchester.
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 (1-855-892-7434) is available to report excessive noise. Equipment noise levels are limited and levels verified by Thruway environmental engineers. The builder, Tappan Zee Constructors, has one hour to mitigate the noise-causing activity above allowed levels.
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 project 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 project website.
The Thruway Authority and Tappan Zee Constructors 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 Community Benefits Program is a $20 million fund made up of equal contributions from the Thruway Authority and Tappan Zee Constructors. 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. For more information, please visit the Community Benefits Program page.
The 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.