Following a dozen years of discussion, work to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge is almost ready to start, the Mount Pleasant Town Board was told last week.
Brian Conybeare, a former News 12 Westchester anchor now serving as a special adviser to Gov. Andrew Cuomo on the project, described the span’s replacement as the “New New York Bridge.”
“Ground will be broken this year,” Conybeare said at the Jan. 22 informational meeting at Mount Pleasant Town Hall. “Construction will begin later this year.”
The entire project is expected to last about 62 months, Conybeare said. The first of the two new spans will be finished in about three years.
Conybeare’s presentation came four days after a contract to replace the Tappan Zee was approved by the state. Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli signed off on a $3.1 billion contract between the state Thruway Authority and Tappan Zee Constructors on Jan. 18 to build the span that like the current bridge will connect Tarrytown and Nyack.
Unlike the existing bridge that was only designed to last about 50 years, the new one could be around three times longer.
“The new bridge won’t need any major structural repairs for 100 years,” Conybeare said, adding it could last for about 150 years.
The new bridge will feature two spans built just north of the existing bridge and will include eight lanes of traffic and a path for pedestrians and bikers. The structures will be built with the capability to accommodate light rail or buses, he said.
One span will be for westbound traffic while the other will carry vehicles eastbound. There will be a turnaround feature for emergency vehicles to move from one side to the other.
“The world’s largest floating crane” will be used during construction, Conybeare said. To cut down on truck traffic during construction, barges on the Hudson River will be used to bring 90 percent of the building materials to the site, he said.
The project will “create tens of thousands of local jobs” and all the steel will be purchased from American companies, Conybeare said.
When construction does begin later this year it will be the next major milestone in what has been a long and arduous process. Over an 11-year period there were 430 meetings and $88 million was spent on planning before Cuomo took office, Conybeare said.
In October 2011 Cuomo called for the project to be on a “fast track,” he said. The design was completed two months later and the project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement was approved last September.
Once the first span is complete, it will be used to carry traffic until the second span is finished, Conybeare said. The existing bridge will be dismantled after the first crossing is open, he said.
Mount Pleasant Supervisor Joan Maybury asked if the new bridge would include a rapid transit component. Each of the two spans will have a lane set aside for rapid transit, Conybeare responded..
Conybeare said planners are working on making the new bridge accessible for pedestrians. He noted that the state was involved with local officials in Nyack and Tarrytown to connect the bridge to local walking and biking trails.
No decision has been made on what would be charged for the new bridge’s tolls. They would be used to pay off a 30-year loan, but the state is working to secure federal funding to help offset the project’s cost, he said.