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NYguy Dec 19, 2012 7:35 PM

NEW YORK | Mario Cuomo (Tappan Zee) Bridge
Never got around to posting all of the images of the 3 proposals to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge (I will), but here's the winning replacement.

Return of the Giants
New York kicks off one of the nation's largest public works projects: replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge.

December 19 2012
Aaron Seward


On December 17, the New York State Thruway Authority unanimously selected a winning proposal for the replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge in the Lower Hudson Valley. The authority picked the cheapest of three proposals it had under consideration—the $3.1 billion dollar design by Tappan Zee Contractors. Construction is scheduled to begin in early 2013 and completion is projected for 2018.

The winning design features a twin roadway with a central 350-foot-long, composite-deck, cable-stayed span supported by four reinforced concrete towers that resemble capital "As" turned on their heads. The outwardly inclined towers will be robust enough to handle the loads of rail and/or select bus rapid transit, which may be added to the project at a future date.

The replacement will be the single largest bridge project in New York history, with a construction price tag of $3.1 billion plus another $500 million to $800 million in environmental mitigation, management, and other costs—still considerably less than the original $5.2 billion estimated by the state. The state also enacted special legislation for the project that requires the design-build contractor to cover cost overruns and delays.

Winning design team Tappan Zee Contractors is a consortium between, among others, Pennsylvania-based American Bridge Company (the builder of the original crossing) and Texas-based Fluor Corporation. Those firms were members of the team that designed and constructed the recently completed San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge replacement. The team will make use of special heavy-lifting equipment it constructed for that project to cut costs and time from the Tappan Zee replacement, a factor that gave the firms the confidence to enter a bid that was approximately a billion dollars cheaper and a year faster than its competitors. It also proposes to reduce the amount of dredging necessary from 1.8 million cubic yards to less than one million cubic yards, reducing environmental impacts, costs, and the schedule.

NYguy Dec 19, 2012 7:49 PM

The current bridge...


michael baumann



Steve Guttman NYC

Busy Bee Dec 19, 2012 9:12 PM

Its a beautiful bridge, but its completely asinine that they are not engineering a railway (or future capability) into this design - especially with it coming in so far under the original cost estimates. This will be regarded as extremely sort sighted in the not so far future.

aquablue Dec 20, 2012 5:15 PM


Originally Posted by Busy Bee (Post 5944485)
Its a beautiful bridge, but its completely asinine that they are not engineering a railway (or future capability) into this design - especially with it coming in so far under the original cost estimates. This will be regarded as extremely sort sighted in the not so far future.

I don't think rail is required right now. Maybe in the future when the population of the area is higher. Also the bridge can be retrofitted for rail.

H-man Dec 20, 2012 5:17 PM

what a disappointing bridge design, option 2 was more aesthetically pleasing IMO

NYguy Dec 20, 2012 8:03 PM

New Tappan Zee Bridge to Ease New York Traffic


New York State has selected a $3.14 billion design to replace the deteriorating Tappan Zee Bridge that spans the Hudson River north of New York City. The current bridge is six years past the builder’s anticipated lifespan and is used by 40 per cent more vehicles than it was originally built to accommodate.

The New York State Thruway Authority granted the design-and-build contract to the Tappan Zee Constructors consortium, which includes the original builders of the bridge, American Bridge Company, Fluor Enterprise, Granite Construction Northeast Incorporated and Traylor Bros. The team’s design was the least expensive of the three final proposals.

The state has spent over $750 million in the past decade maintaining the bridge that carries more than 138,000 vehicles across the Hudson River each day. The bridge, which opened in 1955, has no shoulder lanes, resulting in frequent accidents and traffic jams. Accidents on the current bridge are double the average of the rest of the Thruway, which spans 574 miles.

At a length of 3.1 miles, the new bridge will connect Rockland County with Westchester County in the Hudson Valley. The new bridge is designed to last for over 100 years and will include eight lanes and a pedestrian and cyclist path. The new design has a shallow superstructure and reduces the quantities of dredge, making a smaller environmental impact and keeping costs down. The bridge’s cable-stayed structural system features outwardly slanting main span towers and will be fully equipped to hold future transit system loads.

The bridge is a toll-way, which is expected to triple in price from the current $5 to help the state recover costs. New York State anticipates that the federal government will grant them a $2.9 billion loan to begin construction.

At $3.1 billion, the project is one of the largest in New York’s history. The total cost will likely reach nearly $4 billion after adding environmental mitigation, management and financial costs to construction totals. Those figures come in below the $5 billion the state had originally estimated the project would cost.

Construction is scheduled to begin next year and will be completed by 2018.

Busy Bee Dec 21, 2012 12:15 AM

Well thats good to know. I guess I was assuming the rail infrastructure would have been on a middle deck, not carried directionally separate on the auto spans.

aquablue Dec 21, 2012 12:20 AM


Originally Posted by Busy Bee (Post 5946150)
Well thats good to know. I guess I was assuming the rail infrastructure would have been on a middle deck, not carried directionally separate on the auto spans.

A rail link here could lead to a future link to Stewart Airport from Metro North, but I doubt there is a case for it because Stewart is declining in numbers.

NYC4Life Dec 21, 2012 8:00 PM

I like the proposal chosen, but rail should have been integrated in the design.

The winning design also looks a lot like the cable stayed Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa Bay, Florida:

Coincidentally, the old and now demolished bridge also looked like the current Tappan Zee Bridge:

Hudson11 Dec 21, 2012 8:42 PM

In TZB Replacement, Location adds to cost - New York Times
Sam Roberts December 17, 2012


If this were a docudrama, it might be called “A Bridge Too Far.” If it were a television game show, it would be “The $4 Billion Question.” Instead, it’s a timely real-life, stranger-than-fiction answer to a decades-old anomaly: Why did New York State build the Tappan Zee Bridge at one of the wider points on the Hudson River?

The question is more than a mere historical footnote. It is integral to why the planned replacement for the decrepit 56-year-old span that connects Westchester and Rockland Counties is expected to cost more than $4 billion and why visionary state officials are now stuck with what may seem like a short-sighted political decision made a half century ago.


Building a replacement bridge or tunnel further south where the river narrows was not considered a practical option for two reasons.

First, it would leave the existing two links of the New York State Thruway, in Tarrytown and South Nyack, dangling fecklessly at the shoreline.

And, second, it might prompt a jurisdictional dispute with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey — just the sort of conflict that resulted in the original decision by Gov. Thomas E. Dewey, to build the bridge at Tarrytown, the river’s second widest spot after nearby Haverstraw Bay.
Obviously the first problem is the reason that this bridge absolutely must be in this location.

NYC4Life Dec 21, 2012 8:46 PM

Building it further south would have also placed it too close to the GW Bridge, property of the PA NY/NJ.

NYguy Jan 17, 2013 6:06 PM


Originally Posted by NYC4Life (Post 5947147)
I like the proposal chosen, but rail should have been integrated in the design.

It is, but any rail expansion would be separate from building the bridge itself.


The bridge’s cable-stayed structural system features outwardly slanting main span towers and will be fully equipped to hold future transit system loads.

New environmental hearings set for Tappan Zee Bridge

Jan. 17, 2013
by Michael Risinit


Certain environmental impacts of the new Tappan Zee Bridge might be less than originally thought because the selected bridge design requires less dredging, pile driving and other activities in the Hudson River, according to the state Thruway Authority.

Because of that, the Thruway Authority has revised its application to the state Department of Environmental Conservation for permits for the building of the new bridge and the demolition of existing one. The permits focus on the project’s effects on tidal wetlands, water quality and the sturgeon population in the Hudson.

The DEC plans to hold two hearings on the revised application next month. Environmental groups have continued to express concern about the project’s effects on the river.

The Thruway Authority last month awarded a $3.1 billion contract to Tappan Zee Constructors to design and build the new bridge. Construction is expected to begin later this year.

Tappan Zee Constructors plans to dig up 951,000 cubic yards of riverbed to make room for boats and equipment. The bridge’s environmental study called for dredging 1.9 million cubic yards of sediment. Other reductions resulting from the selected design include the elimination of larger diameter piles and the shrinking of the area in which dredging will occur, according to state documents.

Officials also estimate that fewer sturgeon will be harmed because of less pile-driving noise.

The hearings will take place from 2 to 6 p.m. on Feb. 6 at the Comfort Inn and Suites, 425 East Route 59 in Nanuet and on Feb. 7 at the Westchester Marriott, 670 White Plains Road in Tarrytown.

NYguy Jan 21, 2013 3:19 PM

The website for status updates...

A look back at the 3 finalists...

NYguy Jan 21, 2013 3:33 PM

Rober Moses's 60's bridge plan connecting Long Island to Westchester was a missing link to this plan to connect the region.

And his more controversial plan for a Brooklyn Battery Bridge (which eventually got built as a unnel and renamed last year)

NYguy Jan 28, 2013 9:11 PM

Falling Down
The Tappan Zee Bridge, as one expert calls it, is the “scary of scaries.”

By Andrew Rice
Jan 27, 2013


LePatner, who is the author of a book called Too Big to Fall and who routinely offers dire warnings about the condition of America’s vital infrastructure, considers the Tappan Zee his “scary of scaries.” Yet even he was taken aback when, after the speech, a state official sidled up and implied that things were worse, even, than LePatner imagined. The man asked LePatner how often he crosses the bridge. Maybe twice a year, LePatner told him, to go antiquing in Nyack. “That’s enough,” the official replied.

For the record, the New York State Thruway Authority, which controls the Tappan Zee, insists the bridge is in no immediate danger of falling down. But the 140,000 or so people who travel daily across the seven-lane span, which was built to handle a fraction of that traffic load, can be forgiven for having their doubts. The Tappan Zee routinely sheds chunks of concrete, like so much dandruff, into the river below. Engineering assessments have found that everything from steel corrosion to earthquakes to maritime accidents could cause major, perhaps catastrophic, damage to the span. Last July, one of Governor Cuomo’s top aides referred to the Tappan Zee as the “hold-your-breath bridge.”

After years of dithering, stopgap maintenance, and $88 million worth of studies, Cuomo fast-tracked plans to replace the bridge shortly after taking office in 2011. In December, state officials selected a design for a proposed new, $3.1 billion span. Construction, scheduled to begin this year, could be completed as soon as 2017.

What follows is a breakdown of how the bridge was built—and how it’s been falling apart since.

1. A Bridge Too Far
Improbably enough, the three-mile Tappan Zee, the state’s longest bridge, spans the Hudson River at one of its widest points. Governor Thomas Dewey proposed the site during his 1950 reelection bid. The Port Authority wanted to build a toll bridge at a narrower (read: cheaper and less complicated) juncture a few miles south; Dewey’s location had the advantage of sitting just beyond the Port Authority’s jurisdiction.

2. Cheap and Easy
Completed in just five years for a relatively inexpensive $81 million, the Tappan Zee “was one of the last bridges to arise out of a vanished American way of doing things: build stuff first, ask questions later,” wrote the Manhattan Institute’s Nicole Gelinas in a 2011 City Journal essay. Gelinas says the designers built “thin and light,” using an “untested design that ‘floated’ above bedrock,” which, inconveniently, lay beneath hundreds of feet of silt, sand, and clay. Among other things, the novel technique involved using foundational elements called buoyant caissons to anchor the main span in the soft soil, yielding substantial savings but a less durable structure.

3. And Ugly, Too
The bridge’s design married a towering cantilevered truss, offering sufficient clearance for ships navigating the deep channel on the east side of the river, to a squat causeway, which crossed shallow waters to the west. One of its engineers called the result “one of the ugliest bridges in the East.”

4. Earthquakes!
At the time the Tappan Zee was built, engineers didn’t seriously consider seismic risk, but researchers have since determined the bridge sits atop an active fault line.

5. Worms!!
Marine organisms known as shipworms—actually a type of clam that can bore into submerged wood—weren’t a problem in the Hudson at the time the Tappan Zee was built, but after decades of anti-pollution efforts, they have returned.

6. Punch-Throughs!!!
More than 50 million vehicles traversed the Tappan Zee in 2010, up from 10 million in 1960, and while the bridge was designed to carry the 36-ton trucks of the fifties, it must now withstand today’s 45-ton behemoths. Thus the deteriorating concrete, which falls off the bridge in chunks, sometimes creating holes in the roadway through which the river below can be seen. Forty-five such “punch-throughs” were recorded in the eighteen months prior to a 2009 engineering assessment of the bridge...

7. Strong As Steel (Which Turns Out to Be Not That Strong)
Steel, like concrete, is vulnerable to the corrosive effects of rainwater, especially when it mixes with road salt used to melt snow. The 2009 engineering assessment found that the Tappan Zee’s rate of deterioration is “unusually high.” The bridge’s drainage system was designed to dump water onto the substructure below the highway, causing major corrosion in crucial components...

8. Crash
Traffic accidents occur on the bridge and its approaches at double the rate of the rest of the New York State Thruway. Its seven lanes are narrower than today’s recommended average, and it has no shoulders, meaning that even fender benders can paralyze traffic.

9. Bridge, Ho!
Another potential threat is a maritime accident. In 2006, the Journal News reported that the state had acted to shore up the towers that hold up the main span after a study found that they could be brought down by a collision with one of today’s larger ships.

10. Failure Is an Option
State transportation officials insist the Tappan Zee is still structurally sound. At least some experts disagree. Like other bridges of its vintage, the Tappan Zee has a “fracture critical” design. Because of a lack of engineering redundancies, it could conceivably be brought down by the failure of a key single component.

11. The Chopsticks Solution
In December, a selection committee that included Richard Meier and Jeff Koons recommended a design for the new Tappan Zee. The winning bid came from a consortium of companies that handled the complex—and notoriously overbudget and behind schedule—$6 billion replacement of San Francisco’s Bay Bridge. The design consists of two parallel roadways, with the main span supported by cables strung from eight columns that jut distinctly outward, like chopsticks. Though the cheapest of three finalists, at $3.1 billion, the bridge will still be one of the largest infrastructure projects in New York State. In response to complaints from transit advocates, state officials say the bridge will be built with the capacity to add light rail or bus lanes—features cut from the project for now because of the additional cost. The new bridge, state officials say, is designed to last 100 years before it needs major repairs.

giantSwan Jan 29, 2013 12:44 AM

will the new bridge be called 'the tappan zee bridge'?

I hope so - always one of my favorite bridge names

jsr Jan 29, 2013 1:12 AM

I developed my life long fear of crossing bridges from the Tappan Zee - and that was thirty years ago when it was probably in far better shape! :uhh:

NYguy Jan 29, 2013 7:49 PM

Meanwhile, the new Kosciuszko Bridge (Brooklyn/Queens) will get underway also...

State seeking suitors to build new Kosciuszko Bridge
Department of Transportation begins compiling short-list of potential contractors;
first major step toward construction, slated to start fall 2013

By Irving Dejohn
January 29, 2013


State officials are creating a short-list of suitors that will get a chance to reshape a vital link between Brooklyn and Queens.

The Department of Transportation has released a Request for Qualifications to pick candidates to design and build the new Kosciuszko Bridge.

“It’s the first official step in the process to selecting a contractor and starting construction,” said agency spokesman Adam Levine. “After many years of work to get to this point, this is a step that says ‘Yes, we are really going to build a new Kosciuszko Bridge.’”

From those RFQ submissions, a handful will be invited to respond to a Request for Proposals and be in the running for the construction contract.

The aging 1.1-mile span that carries the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway over Newtown Creek has deteriorated beyond repair. The construction of a new crossing was expedited last year when Gov. Cuomo allocated $460 million for the project via the New York Works Program.

Once existing structures on state-acquired land in the construction zone is demolished, a new six-lane bridge will be constructed next to the current Queens-bound span. Then the old Kosciuszko will be demolished. Officials expect to award the contract for that phase by this summer and finish it by 2018 with an estimated cost of $550 million.

A separate contract will be awarded to construct three additional lanes in the second phase, which will bring the new total to nine lanes of traffic. Construction is expected to last until 2020.

ChiTownCity Jan 29, 2013 9:33 PM

I like the design of the second proposal a lot more. It's understandable as to why they chose the other design instead though....

Onn Jan 30, 2013 12:57 AM

It's good that New York City is getting all these new bridges, they're much needed. Not to mention the $500 million renovation of the Brooklyn Bridge. Gov. Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg know how to get things done! :yes:

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