Superior transportation – both within the county and linked into New York City – has long been a prime Westchester asset. Excellent highways and convenient, dependable rail service put the nation’s commercial center within easy reach of almost anywhere around Westchester.
Nevertheless, following in the tradition of continual upgrades and improvements, an important transportation project has been launched: the replacement of the 58-year-old Tappan Zee Bridge that links Tarrytown and South Nyack for some 138,000 commuters each day. It will also continue to be an essential component of the New York State Thruway mainline.
When Tappan Zee Constructors – a consortium consisting of Fluor Enterprises Inc., American Bridge Company, Granite Construction Northeast, Inc. and Traylor Bros., Inc. – signed a $3.14 billion agreement to build the new bridge in January 2013, the project was hailed as “vital to the long-term economic well-being of the lower Hudson Valley and the entire region” by New York State Thruway Board of Directors Chairman Howard P. Milstein. At the same time, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo noted, “After a decade of delay, we now have a final approved bid that will give the Hudson Valley a new bridge with the best price, the shortest construction time, require the least amount of dredging and be a foundation for future mass transit. The transformation of this bridge project represents what state government can accomplish in the new New York.”
A project spokesperson notes, “This work is being done under a new design-build law passed in 2011. It changes the playing field for infrastructure projects.” The spokesperson adds, “Tappan Zee Constructors are both constructing and designing the bridge. That definitely speeds the process since it allows design work to continue while agreed-upon earlier steps – such as the pilings installed during this fall – are set in place.”
The new New York Bridge project, described as the largest transportation design-build undertaking to date in the United States, was one of 14 projects chosen in 2011 by President Barack Obama’s administration for an expedited federal review and approval process. The new bridge, being built within sight of the original structure, will both speed journeys over the Hudson River and improve the actual roadway with grading that should significantly reduce chances for accidents. In addition, planners promise that this new bridge won’t need replacement for more than a century.
The new bridge will include eight traffic lanes, four breakdown/emergency lanes, at least three highway-speed E-ZPass lanes and the ability to handle express bus service. It will also feature a dedicated bicycle/pedestrian path with scenic overlooks, and will have anti-climb fencing and security cameras to be monitored around the clock.
The project spokesperson stresses, “We have set stringent completion dates containing major financial penalties if they are not met. We are confident the bridge will open on schedule, and that Westchester residents and businesses will enjoy the benefits of the new structure soon after its 2018 opening.”