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.