Governor Cuomo Announces Beginning of Formal Construction of the New NY Bridge to Replace Tappan Zee

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the beginning of formal construction of the New NY Bridge to replace the Tappan Zee.

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Albany, NY - October 16, 2013 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the beginning of formal construction of the New NY Bridge to replace the Tappan Zee with installation of the first permanent piles that will comprise the foundation of the new bridge. The bridge is scheduled to be completed in just under five years from the start of formal construction making it one of the nation’s largest construction projects to be completed in such a short time.

“This week, we are putting shovels in the ground and starting formal construction on a new bridge to replace the Tappan Zee, the largest infrastructure project New York State has undertaken in decades,” Governor Cuomo said. “After more than a decade of delay, New York State has moved this project forward at a dramatic pace while working with the community, involving the public and protecting the local environment. Once completed, drivers in Rockland, Westchester and surrounding areas will finally have a safer, less congested bridge that will include a walkway for pedestrians and bikers and accommodates future mass transit.”

“The New NY Bridge is the largest transportation infrastructure project in North America and one of the largest construction contracts in New York State history. The Thruway Authority is grateful for Governor Cuomo's strong leadership and support, as well as the dedication of all of the federal and state agencies involved,” said Thruway Authority Chairman Howard P. Milstein. “We are on track to complete this vital link in our regional transportation infrastructure on time and on budget.”

When completed, the New NY Bridge will mean less congestion for motorists, with eight traffic lanes, four breakdown/emergency lanes, and state-of-the-art traffic monitoring systems, as well as a dedicated commuter bus lane from the day it opens. Designed and constructed to be mass-transit-ready, the new crossing will be able to accommodate bus rapid transit, light rail or commuter rail. The twin-span bridge will also include a bike and pedestrian path.

First Construction Camera Live
The first of several highly sophisticated construction cameras has been installed and can be accessed on the project website,, under the ‘Construction Cameras’ icon. The public can stay up-to-date on the progress of the New NY Bridge with views from this construction camera and the interactive archive calendar.

Construction Timeline

  • Dredging to prepare for bridge construction is ongoing until November 1, and will also take place during August, September and October, 2014.
  • October 2013: Main span permanent pile installation begins
  • November 2013: Permanent pile installation begins for approaches
  • March 2014: Work begins on approach substructure
  • June 2014: Work begins on main span substructure
  • September 2014: Work begins for erection of superstructure
  • Late 2014 / early 2015: Work begins on cable stay installation
  • Late 2016: Complete north span
  • December 2016: Relocate westbound traffic to new north span
  • February 2017: Relocate existing eastbound traffic to new north span
  • February 2017: Start demolition of existing bridge
  • Late 2017: Both spans complete
  • November 2017: Relocate eastbound traffic from new north span to new south span
  • April 2018: Physical completion of project
  • July 2018: Final acceptance of project

Foundation Construction Process
Steel piles created specifically for each pile location are brought to the construction site by a barge. Each pile is placed in several steps. First, a vibratory hammer shakes the pile, causing it to sink into the silty soil beneath the river to within a few feet of the water line. Then, a second pile is welded to the first to make one longer pile, and the weld is tested and inspected. The pile is then driven the remainder of the length needed to support the bridge, with an impact hammer equipped with a noise dampening shroud.

Once the steel pile is installed, steel reinforcement and concrete are placed in the pile. A pile cap is then added to the pile, consisting of a precast concrete form that is floated to the location. The main span tower pile caps will require approximately 6,000 cubic yards of concrete.

The concrete used in the piles for the New NY Bridge will be made in a floating batch plant on site, so that it will not need to be delivered by truck through local town and village streets.

After the pile caps are complete, the concrete piers are built from the water level upward. When they reach the proper height, a pier cap is constructed. The pier cap will support the structural steel that will in turn support the roadway. For the main span towers, the concrete continues until the towers have reached their full height – 419 feet above the river surface.

When the towers are complete, cables and roadway are constructed from the tower outward in both directions. As a segment of road is put in place, the associated cables are installed, concrete deck panels are installed, and cast-in-place connecting strips are poured.

About the New NY Bridge
Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership and with the support of President Barack Obama and the federal government, the New NY Bridge project has moved from dysfunction to construction. Since October 2011, steps forward include: new design-build legislation was enacted; concurrent environmental review and procurement processes were completed; a project labor agreement was negotiated with construction unions; and pre-construction activities commenced – all with an unprecedented level of transparency and community involvement.

Extensive measures will be in place throughout the duration of the project to protect the environment and to monitor the impact of construction on surrounding communities.

The total cost of building the New NY Bridge is expected to be under $4 billion, far less than the initial $5.4 billion federally approved estimate. The design-build contract for the bridge will help keep the project on-budget and on-time because financial risk associated with most cost overruns or schedule delays lies with the contractor, rather than toll payers or taxpayers.

The bridge is being designed and built by Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC (TZC), a consortium of some of the world's best-known and most highly-regarded design, engineering and construction firms, including Fluor, American Bridge, Granite, and Traylor Bros., along with key design firms HDR, Buckland & Taylor, URS, and GZA. TZC is working closely on the project with a team of employees from the New York State Thruway Authority and the State Department of Transportation.

Plans for a new bridge to replace the Tappan Zee were first discussed in 1999, and over the next 11 years, $88 million in taxpayer dollars was spent, 430 meetings were held, 150 concepts were considered – but the project did not move forward.

The existing Governor Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge toll bridge opened to traffic in 1955 and is a vital artery for residents, commuters, travelers and commercial traffic. Designed to carry up to 100,000 vehicles each day, daily bridge traffic has grown to about 138,000 vehicles. In recent years, hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent to maintain the structure. Heavy traffic and lack of emergency shoulders can create unsafe driving conditions on the bridge and lead to frequent congestion and frustration for motorists.