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New York State Thruway Authority

05/14/2019 | Press release | Archived content

GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES LOWERING OF FINAL SPAN OF THE OLD TAPPAN ZEE BRIDGE

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the final steel section of the old Tappan Zee Bridge has been removed. 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, an iconic twin-span cable-stayed crossing linking Westchester and Rockland counties across the Hudson River that fully opened to traffic last summer. The 600-foot-long, 5,500-ton west anchor span - the old bridge's last span above water - was lowered onto barges using strand jacks during a dismantling operation that began late Thursday afternoon.

'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.'

When it opened in December 1955, the Tappan Zee Bridge 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 Tappan Zee Bridge was originally designed with six traffic lanes and a median but due to increasing traffic, the Thruway Authority added a seventh lane in the mid-1980s and installed a movable barrier in 1992 to create an extra lane for the morning and evening rush hour. In 1999, the Thruway Authority considered replacing the Tappan Zee due to growing congestion, on-going maintenance and escalating repair costs. Despite 430 meetings, 150 concepts and $88 million, the replacement project did not significantly advance in a decade under three administrations.

Under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, a new twin-span crossing built to last a century was chosen to replace the Tappan Zee in 2011. Governor Cuomo incorporated all past studies into a comprehensive accelerated review process and worked with the Legislature to pass a historic design-build law.

As part of the construction of the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, design-builder Tappan Zee Constructors (TZC) has been dismantling the Tappan Zee Bridge.

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.

TZC transported the recently-lowered west anchor span offsite for further disassembly this afternoon.

In addition, 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.

The Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge is the first cable-stayed bridge across the Hudson River. Featuring eight 419-foot towers standing at a five-degree angle, the twin-span bridge has a total of 192 stay cables that would stretch 14 miles if laid end-to-end. A cable-stayed bridge uses steel cables placed at an angle to connect the bridge deck to vertical towers that extend high above the roadway. More than 220 million pounds of all-American steel was used to build the bridge. Approximately 7,000 workers have contributed to date and nearly 11.5 million work hours have been dedicated to the project.

Thruway Authority Executive Director Matthew J. Driscoll said, 'The old Tappan Zee Bridge proudly served motorists for more than six decades but it's time had passed. 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.'

New NY Bridge Project Director Jamey Barbas said, '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. 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.'

At Governor Cuomo's direction, the New York State Thruway Authority has managed the bridge replacement project since 2013 and is the owner of the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.