VALHALLA – Updated plans and costs to construct the new Tappan Zee Bridge were presented to the public Tuesday night at a forum at Mount Pleasant Town Hall in Valhalla.
Brian Conybeare, the special advisor to the governor on the bridge project, presenting updated plans and figures on the bridge, which will begin construction this year.
Most notably, a Mass Transit Task Force was created to look at short and long term transit solutions, a Thruway Authority Board vote approved the project, and the design proposal by Tappan Zee Constructors, a joint venture between several engineering and construction firms, was accepted as the final choice for designer and builder.
“The state controller, the attorney general, and the Federal Highway Administration have all now approved the bridge contract with Tappan Zee Bridge Constructors, and that means we can move ahead and break ground on a new Tappan Zee Bridge,” Conybeare said.
The Constructors group was chosen in part because their contract price of $3.142 billion was significantly lower than initial estimates which would have put the bridge over $5 billion. Much of this savings comes from the use of the “left coast lifter,” a floating crane which can dramatically reduction build time and cost by assembling the bridge off-site and lifting the partially-completed pieces into place.
The updates included pictures of the open towers design, where bridge towers curve outward from two spans, one for each direction. This design, which is the first of its kind on the United States, was chosen in part because it will direct falling snow and ice away from cars.
The span itself will consist of eight lanes, four breakdown and emergency lanes, a “shared use path” for bikes and pedestrians which will run along one of the spans, and may also include highway speed EZ Pass lanes and all-electronic toll collection.
As it stands now, the bridge is expected to take five years and two-and-a-half months to build and will require no major work for over 100 years. It will be financed primarily by Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loans, but also by bonds which will be partially repaid using tolls, the cost of which depend largely on the amount received under TIFIA.
In addition, the bridge will be built with turnaround lanes for better emergency vehicle access and to accommodate bus rapid transit and rails. If necessary, a BRT or train component can be built in the future to accommodate passengers, but the plan will not include them from the outset.