BY JANIE ROSMAN
Tomorrow is a long-anticipated day: the westbound span of the new Tappan Zee Bridge will open to westbound motorists. The media was offered a peek at the $3.1-mile, $3.98 billion project today, its first since the eight main span towers were finished in December. Since then, crews have been working to complete that span for a late summer/early fall opening. Last month, they finished installing precast concrete roofs on its four towers.
Covering the span’s deck panels are a one-inch durable polymer overlay and lane markings. Eight overhead gantries with electronic signage will alert drivers about lane use, exits and other information; LED lights on stanchions (columns) will keep the roadway in clear view.
Three “turnarounds”—two on the Rockland approach span and one on the Westchester approach span—will help emergency responders quickly get to the either span in case of an accident. The completed bridge will have 12-foot wide driving lanes, safety shoulders and lanes for emergency vehicles.
Enhanced safety features include a fire department connection with valves at each end that allow water to flow through pipes directly to hydrants. Staggered on the inside and outside lanes at 350-feet intervals ranging 175 feet apart or less, hydrants will be fed from a dry system (not filled with water until needed) in winter and a water-pumped system during summer months.
Because westbound—and, a few months later, eastbound—traffic will occupy the westbound span, construction for the bicycle/walking path and six viewing areas, each with steel mesh safety netting below, will begin once eastbound traffic is on the eastbound span. This spring, crews installed the anti-climb tensile mesh fencing that will line both sides of both spans and the path.