One Final Bow Old Bridge’s Main Span Steel Lowered

May 16, 2019
One Final Bow Old Bridge’s Main Span Steel Lowered

The final section of the old Tappan Zee Bridge’s steel superstructure has been removed.

The 600-foot-long, 11-million-pound west anchor span — the old bridge’s last span above the Hudson River — was lowered onto barges using strand jacks earlier this week.

The removal of the last piece of superstructure of the old bridge is another historic milestone in the project to build the 3.1-mile Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.  

“The new Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge is another unprecedented investment in New York’s transportation infrastructure that will continue to advance the economy in the Hudson Valley and beyond,” Governor Cuomo said. “Though it served the Hudson Valley for decades, the old Tappan Zee Bridge ultimately came to symbolize government gridlock and a lack of vision. Today, we are investing in world-class infrastructure across New York State and the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge is yet another example of New York’s nation-leading efforts to build boldly for the future.”

Governor Cuomo observed the dismantling operation by boat last Friday. He was joined by New York State Thruway Authority Executive Director Matthew Driscoll and Project Director Jamey Barbas.

“The old Tappan Zee Bridge proudly served motorists for more than six decades but it’s time had passed,” Driscoll said. “Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, the new Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge is a world-class crossing providing reliability for motorists and businesses alike, by reducing congestion and delivering more dependable travel times.”

When it opened in December 1955, the Tappan Zee became the longest bridge in New York State and was considered a significant engineering accomplishment. Designed by engineer Emil H. Praeger, the Tappan Zee was the first permanent bridge in the United States to be supported, in part, by buoyant caissons. This caisson design made it possible to construct the bridge at one of the widest points of the Hudson River by reducing the load on the steel piles supporting the main span. As the final link in the 570-mile New York State Thruway system, the Tappan Zee Bridge stimulated significant economic growth in both Westchester and Rockland counties. Additionally, Rockland experienced a population boom.

“The lowering of the last piece of superstructure of the old Tappan Zee Bridge is a historic and timely symbol as we transition from the past to the future,” Barbas said. “Thanks to Governor Cuomo’s vision, the new Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge is among the most technologically-advanced crossings in the nation, provides dedicated space for buses, bicycles and pedestrians and is built strong enough to accommodate commuter rail between its spans.”

Since 2018, five sections of the 2,415-foot main span of the old Tappan Zee Bridge have been removed via distinct operations:

  • Lowering the 532-foot-long, 4,750-ton center of the main span in May 2018.
  • Lowering the 6,500-ton east anchor span in January 2019 utilizing explosive charges. Marine salvage experts are in the process of removing the material from the Hudson River.
  • Removing steel piece-by-piece from the two remaining cantilever truss sections with barge-based cranes.

The west anchor span is now moored south of the bridge where it will be disassembled.

In addition, Tappan Zee Constructors (TZC) is working with marine salvage experts to remove the old Tappan Zee Bridge’s east anchor span from the Hudson River in the coming weeks. The steel is being recovered with the assistance of chains, previously laid on the riverbed, connected to lift barges. Once raised to the waterline, the lift barges will transfer the steel to a submersible barge to transport the structure from the project site.  

You can watch a time lapse video of the west anchor span lowering, or view the latest images on the project gallery.