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Months Before Opening, New Tappan Zee Bridge is Now Drivable

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Four years after construction began, it is now possible to drive across the entire length of the newly built Tappan Zee Bridge on the west-bound side. The twin span cable-stayed Bridge will span 3.1 miles in length over NY’s Hudson River, connecting Westchester and Rockland Counties. The New York State Thruway Authority, the owner of the bridge, expects to open the four west bound lanes on the new 96-foot-wide bridge early in the Fall.  As reported by the NY Times, there are still finishing touches missing, including a one-and-a-half-inch coating of asphalt, stainless steel fencing , LED lighting poles, and digital message signs. 

Traffic from Rockland County to Westchester will still need to use the old bridge, but then will share the new crossing with westbound vehicles, while workers begin taking apart the previous bridge. The second parallel 87-foot-wide crossing, which will carry four more lanes, is also making nice progress but still has two wide gaps left in its steel frame. It is slated for completion before the end of next year. 

 “It’s incredibly gratifying, though every day there are challenges to work through” said Jamey Barbas, the engineer supervising the project, as she gazed at the progress of the magnificent bridge, which soars to the height of 40-story buildings over the river.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, who got the new Tappan Zee Bridge project rolling after a ten year stand still, is also proud. “It’s a physical manifestation of New York’s spirit of possibility,” said Mr. Cuomo. NY’s governor may be a presidential candidate in 2020. The highlights of his resume include his ambitious improvements in the state’s infrastructure, which also include the opening of phase 1 of the Second Ave Subway , the renovations at Penn Station, La Guardia, and soon Kennedy Airport. 

Upon completion, the $3.98 Billion bridge will boast 220 million pounds of steel, 300,000 cubic yards of concrete, 50 miles of foundation pilings, and 14 miles of main span cables. It will carry up to 137,000 cars a day, replacing the decaying Tappan Zee, opened in 1955, which has become infamous for chronic traffic jams.

 “The biggest challenge is orchestrating all the different aspects of the work schedule so it’s seamless,” said Ms. Barbas. “It’s almost like a conductor in a symphony. You have to make sure everyone is doing their part.”

By Ilana Siyance

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