HOME STRETCH FOR NEW TZ CONSTRUCTION

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STORY AND PHOTOS BY JANIE ROSMAN

 View of the TZB from the new bridge. You can see blue girders underneath the deck panels.
View of the TZB from the new bridge. You can see blue girders underneath the deck panels.

Media received its own holiday gift mid-December: an exclusive, first-ever look at the replacement Tappan Zee Bridge, whose westbound span opens sometime this year. Governor Andrew Cuomo celebrated the completion of the eight main span towers for this 3.1-mile, $3.98 billion project.

“This bridge says that when you reject the naysayers, when you reject the doubt, when you reject the insecurity, when you find the confidence and the commonality, and you take all that negative energy and you turn it into positive energy, there is nothing you can’t do,” Cuomo said. “You find that confidence and you find that spot of cooperation and you turn that energy positive, and the sky is the limit.”

As of last month, 90 percent of support structures are in place, 1,000 piles are installed, and three miles of roadway are completed as of last month. Last July crews began attaching the first of 192 stay cables two months before the first towers on the westbound towers reached their eventual 419-foot heights.

Twelve pairs of cables will be anchored into each side of the towers and tensioned to outside sections of structural steel. Each cable contains bundles of metal strands covered in protective sheaths; placed end-to-end the total is 14 miles of sheathing encasing 700 miles of strands. Cable bundles increase in size as they move away from the towers to support the 74-million-pound main span roadway.

Just one year earlier the I Lift NY super crane set the first of four crossbeams between two main spans last February. When the steel and deck panels extended far enough from the crossbeams — as when the towers reached a certain height — workers began attaching and tensioning the cables under the roadway.

Main span towers and stay cables.
Main span towers and stay cables.

A one-inch durable polymer overlay over the deck panels will be the final driving surface and will have lane markings. By mid-September final structural steel was installed as much as can be on the eastbound span and completed on westbound span in early October. By next spring/summer traffic will shift to the westbound span so the super crane can start dismantling the current bridge, and work will resume on the eastbound span.

LED roadway lighting stanchions (columns) were attached to the westbound span, and workers installed three “turnarounds” — two on the Rockland approach span and one on the Westchester approach span — so emergency responders can quickly get to the either span in case of an accident.

Water lines were installed underneath the bridge’s roadway and will connect to hydrants staggered on the inside and outside lanes. These hydrants will be fed from a dry system (not filled with water until needed) in winter and a water-pumped system during summer months.

Workers began prepping the former toll plaza site in Tarrytown for foundation work on the new 26,000-square-foot Thruway Authority maintenance facility. Traffic shifts in October and November paved the way for crews to start building the new state police barracks south of the Thruway.

The towers’ completion comes four years after the Thruway Authority closed a deal with the U.S. Department of Transportation for an historic $1.6 billion Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan.

Last month, Cuomo discussed federal funding and the state’s infrastructure with businessman and former NYC mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis on the CATS Roundtable (AM 970) days earlier. “I spoke to President-elect Trump to congratulate him after he was elected and one of the first things he went to was infrastructure because he’s a builder, and his point was we don’t build anymore,” Cuomo said. “He (Trump) pointed out that we do build in New York and he’s coming up with a big infrastructure program…We have $100 billion. The largest commitment in modern political history for infrastructure, et cetera. Airports all over the state. Roads and bridges all over the state. The trick now is making it happen, getting it done. And that’s a new task for government.”

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