Sixty-two years after the Tappan Zee Bridge first opened, New York State is near completion on its $3.9 billion replacement. The current bridge had displayed significant signs of aging after carrying more than 138,000 cars and trucks daily. The new structure, which is being built alongside the old, connects Westchester and Rockland counties across the Hudson River.
The Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge to Open Next Year
The Tappan Zee Bridge replacement is one of the largest public infrastructure projects currently underway in the country. The 3.1 mile span crosses the Hudson River north of New York City.
Construction began in 2013. Instead of a traditional suspension bridge, the cable-stayed bridge uses a system of primary and secondary cables to suspend the road deck. The new Kosciuszko Bridge, which connects Brooklyn and Queens, is also cable-stayed.
The new Tappan Zee was assembled from massive, pre-fabricated pieces that were transported down the Hudson River on barges. These pieces were then lifted into place by a supercrane, which is now known as “I Lift NY.”
- The bridge will have eight lanes.
- There are eight, 419-foot-tall towers throughout the bridge.
- 193 stay cables suspend the 1,200 foot main span over the deepest part of the Hudson.
- 14 miles of cable will hold up the center span.
- 50 miles of concrete-filled foundation piling will support the structure.
- 300,000 cubic yards of concrete and 220 million pounds of steel will be used.
The Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, as it is officially named, is now open in one direction. The other side is still under construction and set to open in 2018.
The History of the 62-year-old Tappan Zee Bridge
The Governor Malcolm Wilson-Tappan Zee Bridge was built between 1952 and 1955. It cost only $80 million to construct. In return, the river-crossing provided a commercial lifeline for New York counties north of the Hudson River. Between 1950 and 1960, Rockland County’s population jumped 53 percent. After the Tappan Zee opened, a network of new roads, like the Cross-Westchester Expressway and the New England Thruway, revitalized the region.
The Tappan Zee’s ultimate decline may have been the result of overuse. Its low $5 fee attracted those looking to avoid a higher-priced toll at crossings like the George Washington Bridge.
At times, the aging structure shed chunks of concrete into the river below. Engineering assessments found that the bridge could be vulnerable to collapse in the event of an earthquake or maritime accident.
The Tappan Zee was retired from use on October 6, 2017, when Westchester bound traffic was shifted to the northern span of the new bridge.
The demolition, which is currently underway, will remove:
- More than 300,000 tons of concrete
- Nearly 47,000 tons of steel
- More than 13,000 timber pilings
- 1,770 deck panels
- Close to 200 piers
The Tappan Zee Bridge will be completely dismantled by the end of next year.