BY JANIE ROSMAN
Photo credit New York State Thruway Authority
For many, late August signifies the nearing end of summer (though not for another month) and the beginning of another school year. However, in two weeks (August 25) — and weather permitting — the New NY Bridge project will reach another milestone.
When rush hour wanes and evening traffic slows that Friday, the Thruway Authority and Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC (TZC) will direct westbound traffic from the westbound Thruway to the north/westbound span of the new Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.
Surface preparations and paving from the Rockland approach to the main span last week were completed last week. By Friday, TZC had finished paving the main span and is now working on the Westchester approach.
If it rains, project officials said, then plans to switch traffic will be rescheduled because — while westbound span lanes will have been striped — the roadway surface area that will direct drivers to bear right onto the new bridge must be striped the day of the move and cannot be done in wet weather. There is no rain date at this time.
The northernmost lane of the westbound span — designated for the shared use path — will be temporarily used for traffic. Phase two — moving east/southbound traffic from the current bridge to the new span and separating it from opposite-direction traffic by a concrete barrier — will take place this fall.
It has yet to be determined when spur path and trail head construction will begin in South Nyack. Eastbound traffic will be redirected to its own span when the new bridge opens some time in 2018.
As the project remains an active construction site, safety rules are in place and strictly enforced for motorists. That means stay within the speed limit and do not cross a solid white line, which is solid for a reason: do not change lanes on either the Westchester or Rockland approach spans.
Last month, two of the four tower cranes — which assisted with building the westbound towers and installing stay cables — were dismantled and removed, ending the “major” construction on that span. Crews also removed temporary equipment and walkways and are using the two remaining cranes to complete the eastbound main span.
Following a presentation to his students at Byram Hills High School, AP Physics teacher Paul Beeken reflected about the project’s complexities.
“Before the (Tappan Zee) bridge was built there was nothing there, so no one had any expectations about what a bridge would do,” Beeken said. “Building a bridge today is 10 times more difficult because people need that bridge and depend upon it. The logistics of being able to build a new bridge without ever shutting down the (bridge) one presents challenges.”
Progress continues on the new maintenance facility and the new police facility on the south side of the Thruway, both in Tarrytown, and crews continue installing structural steel and stay cables (76 so far of the eventual 96) on the eastbound span. Earlier this week TZC tested the backup generator near the Westchester landing, and during the next few weeks will be testing the electronic systems.
This is your last two weeks to drive westbound on the Tappan Zee Bridge!