Tappan Zee Bridge (1955–2017)

The Governor Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge, commonly known as the Tappan Zee Bridge, was a cantilever bridge in the U.S. state of New York. It was built from 1952 to 1955 to cross the Hudson River at one of its widest points, 25 miles (40 km) north of Midtown Manhattan, from South Nyack to Tarrytown. As an integral conduit within the New York Metropolitan Area, the bridge connected South Nyack in Rockland County with Tarrytown in Westchester County in the Lower Hudson Valley.

Governor Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge
The Tappan Zee Bridge as seen from Tarrytown, 2007
Coordinates41°04′12″N 73°53′28″W / 41.07000°N 73.89111°W / 41.07000; -73.89111
Carries7 lanes (3 northbound/westbound, 3 southbound/eastbound, 1 reversible) of I-87 / I-287 / New York Thruway
CrossesHudson River
LocaleConnecting South Nyack, Rockland County, New York and Tarrytown, Westchester County, New York in the Lower Hudson Valley
Official nameGovernor Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge
Maintained byNew York State Thruway Authority
DesignCantilever bridge
Total length16,013 feet (4,881 m; 3 mi)
Width90 feet (27 m)
Longest span1,212 feet (369 m)
Clearance below138 feet (42 m)
OpenedDecember 15, 1955
  • January 15, 2019 (eastern span)
  • May 12, 2019 (western span)
ClosedOctober 6, 2017
Replaced byTappan Zee Bridge (2017–present)
Daily traffic134,947 (2010)[1]

Opened on December 15, 1955, the Tappan Zee Bridge was one of the primary crossings of the Hudson River north of New York City; it carried much of the traffic between southern New England and points west of the Hudson. The bridge was the longest bridge in New York State, a title retained by its replacement. The total length of the bridge approached 16,013 feet (3.0328 mi; 4,881 m). The cantilever span was 1,212 feet (369 m), which provided a maximum clearance of 138 feet (42 m) over the water.[2] The bridge was officially named after former governor Malcolm Wilson in 1994, though the original name continued to be used.

The Tappan Zee Bridge was part of the New York State Thruway mainline and carried the highway concurrency of Interstate 87 and Interstate 287. The span carried seven lanes of motor traffic. The center lane was able to be switched between eastbound and westbound traffic depending on the prevalent commuter direction; on weekdays the center lane was eastbound in the morning and westbound in the evening. The switch was accomplished via a movable center barrier which was moved by a pair of barrier transfer machines. Even with the switchable lane, traffic was frequently very slow.

In 2013, federal and state authorities started constructing a replacement bridge at a cost of at least $4 billion. All traffic was shifted to the new bridge on October 6, 2017, and demolition of the old bridge began soon afterward. The eastern half of the bridge was demolished in a controlled demolition on January 15, 2019, while the western half was lowered onto a barge and hauled away in May 2019.[3]

Name edit

The Tappan Zee is named for an American Indian tribe from the area called "Tappan"; and zee being the Dutch word for "sea".[4]

In 1994, the name of Malcolm Wilson was added to the bridge's name upon the 20th anniversary of his leaving the governor's office in December 1974. However, it was almost never used when the bridge was spoken about colloquially.[5]

History edit

Tappan Zee Bridge toll plaza, 1973, Photograph by Chester Higgins Jr.

With the increasing demands for commuter travel taxing the existing bridges and tunnels, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey had plans in 1950 to construct a bridge across the Hudson near Dobbs Ferry, New York. The proposal was overridden by New York State Governor Thomas E. Dewey, who wanted to construct a bridge to connect the New York State Thruway across Westchester to the New England Thruway. The Port Authority promised its bondholders that it would not allow any other entity to construct a river crossing within its jurisdiction, which reached to a point one mile (1.6 km) south of Nyack on the western shore of the Hudson River and across to Tarrytown[6] on the eastern shore. The bridge was built on a very tight budget of $81 million (1950 dollars), or $796 million in 2014 dollars.[7]

A May 10, 1950, editorial in The New York Times suggested that a site in southern Dobbs Ferry or northern Hastings-on-Hudson, where the Hudson narrowed considerably from its three-mile (5 km) width at Tappan Zee, would be a more appropriate site, and suggested that Governor Dewey work with his counterpart, Governor of New Jersey Alfred E. Driscoll, to craft a compromise that would offer Thruway customers a discounted bridge fare at a more southerly crossing.[8] Two days later, Governor Dewey announced that the Port Authority had dropped its plans to construct a bridge of its own, and that the bridge's location would be close to the Tarrytown-Nyack line, just outside the Port Authority's jurisdiction. Dewey stated that World War II military technology would be used in the bridge's construction.[9]

The site of the bridge, at the Hudson River's second-widest point, added to construction costs. The site was chosen to be as close as possible to New York City, while staying out of the 25-mile (40 km) range of the Port Authority's influence, thus ensuring that revenue from collected tolls would go to the newly created New York State Thruway Authority, and not the Port Authority.[10][11][12] A unique aspect of the design of the bridge was that the main span was supported by eight hollow concrete caissons. Their buoyancy supported some of the loads and helped reduce costs.[13]

The bridge was designed by Emil Praeger of the Madigan-Hyland engineering firm. Captain Praeger helped develop floating caissons during World War II when the Allied forces needed to create and protect portable harbors for the 1944 invasion of Normandy.[14] Black architect and engineer Donald F. White had also worked on the bridge design.[15]

Construction started in March 1952 and the bridge opened to traffic on December 15, 1955, along with a 27-mile (43 km) long section of the New York State Thruway from Suffern to Yonkers.[16][17] New York State Governor W. Averell Harriman signed a bill on February 28, 1956, to officially name the structure the Tappan Zee Bridge.[18]

Originally, tolls were collected in both directions. In August 1970, the toll was abolished for westbound drivers, and at the same time, eastbound drivers saw their tolls doubled. The tolls of eleven other New York–New Jersey and Hudson River crossings along a 130-mile (210 km) stretch, from the Outerbridge Crossing in the south to the Rip Van Winkle Bridge in the north, were also changed to eastbound-only at that time.[19]

Replacement bridge edit

The superstructure, which was constructed during a period of material shortages during the Korean War
The new Tappan Zee Bridge being constructed next to the original

Planning and construction edit

Since the end of the 20th century, calls to replace the aging Tappan Zee Bridge had gone unanswered. The deteriorating structure bore an average of 138,000 vehicles per day by the end of its life, substantially more traffic than its designed capacity. Unlike other major bridges in metropolitan New York, the Tappan Zee was designed to last only 50 years due to material shortages during the Korean War at the time of its construction.[20] In total, the bridge was open for 61 years, 9 months, and 21 days. The new bridge is intended to last at least 100 years without any major repairs.[21]

The collapse of Minnesota's I-35W Mississippi River bridge in 2007 raised worries about the Tappan Zee's structural integrity.[22] These concerns, together with traffic overcapacity and increased maintenance costs, escalated the serious discussions already ongoing about replacing the Tappan Zee with a tunnel or a new bridge.[23][24] Six options were identified and submitted for project study and environmental review.[25]

In 2009, the Tappan Zee Bridge was featured on The History Channel "The Crumbling of America" showing the infrastructure crisis in the United States.[26] Many factors contribute to the precarious infrastructure of the bridge, which has been called "one of the most decrepit and potentially dangerous bridges" in the U.S.[27] Engineering assessments have determined that "everything from steel corrosion to earthquakes to maritime accidents could cause major, perhaps catastrophic, damage to the span," prompting one of the top aides in the New York state governor's office to refer to the Tappan Zee as the “hold-your-breath bridge.”[27] A 2009 state report noted that the bridge was not built with a plan that was "conducive to long-term durability” and that the Tappan Zee’s engineers designed it to be “nonredundant,” meaning that one "critical fracture could make the bridge fail completely because its supports couldn’t transfer the structure’s load to other supports."[28]

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) studied the feasibility of either including a rail line across the new bridge or building the new bridge so a new rail line can be installed at a future date. Commuter rail service west of the bridge in Rockland County is limited, and the MTA studied expansion possibilities in Rockland County that would use the new bridge to connect with Metro-North's Hudson Line on the east side of the bridge along the Hudson River for direct service into Manhattan. On September 26, 2008, New York state officials announced their plan to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge with a new bridge that included high-speed bus lanes and space for future commuter-train tracks. The bridge was estimated to cost $6.4 billion, while adding bus lanes from Suffern to Port Chester was estimated to cost an additional $2.9 billion. Adding a rail line from the Suffern Metro-North station and across the bridge, connecting with Metro-North’s Hudson Line south of Tarrytown, would have added another $6.7 billion. The plan was reviewed for its environmental impacts.[29]

In 2013, the New York State Thruway Authority began building the new Tappan Zee Bridge, a double-span bridge (four lanes per span in opposite directions) with designated bus lanes, to the north of the old bridge.[30][31] Construction began as scheduled during 2013, with completion projected for 2017.[32]

Closure and demolition of old span edit

Dismantling of the original bridge
Explosive demolition of the east span

The new northbound/westbound span opened on August 25, 2017.[33][34] Southbound/eastbound traffic remained on the old span until October 7, 2017, when it was temporarily shifted to the newer northbound/westbound span.[35] The old bridge was subsequently decommissioned.[36][37] The replacement bridge project was expected to be completed by June 15, 2018[38] at a cost of $3.98 billion.[39] After some delays, it was announced that the new southbound/eastbound span would open to traffic on September 8, 2018.[40][41] However, the opening of the new eastbound span was delayed when a piece of the old bridge came loose on September 7 while being demolished. The eastbound span, which was 160 feet (49 m) away from the old bridge, remained closed until the old bridge could be stabilized.[42][43]

The old bridge was then demolished in piecemeal fashion in order to minimize impacts on the Hudson River's wildlife and marine traffic.[44] 135 deck panels that were assembled onto the old bridge recently as part of emergency repairs would be sold to local governments for a dollar each so that local governments can build new bridges.[45] Other parts of the old bridge would be sunk off the Atlantic Ocean coast as part of New York State's artificial reef program.[46] In May 2018, the state government began sinking parts of the old bridge to make 12 artificial reefs.[42]

On January 2, 2019, it was announced that the eastern approach to the old bridge would be demolished with explosives on January 12.[47][48] However, it was postponed due to high winds.[49][50] It was demolished on January 15, 2019.[51][52] The western approach was lowered onto a barge and hauled away beginning on May 12, 2019 and lasting several days.[3]

Suicide prevention edit

The Tappan Zee Bridge as seen from a train on the eastern shore of the Hudson River

From 1998 to 2008, more than 25 people committed suicide on the Tappan Zee Bridge, according to the New York State Thruway Authority.[53]

On August 31, 2007, NYSTA officials added four phones – two each on the Rockland and Westchester sides – that connect callers via the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline crisis hotline to counselors at LifeNet or Covenant House.[54] Signs reading "Life is Worth Living" and "When it seems like there is no hope, there is help" were placed on the bridge.[55] Suicide fencing and traffic cameras were also installed along the bridge, and bridge staff were trained in suicide prevention.[56] On October 14, 2012, Newsday reported that the Tappan Zee Bridge was called the Golden Gate Bridge of the East and that the "new Tappan Zee, which is in the works, will include fencing designed to thwart jumpers."[57]

Suicides on the Tappan Zee Bridge included those of Scott Douglas on December 31, 1993 – after murdering his wife, newspaper heiress Anne Scripps – and of Douglas's stepdaughter Anne Morrell Petrillo, who jumped to her death on September 24, 2009.[58] A US military employee jumped from the bridge to her death in 2010.[59]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "2010 Traffic Data Report for New York State" (PDF). New York State Department of Transportation. Appendix C. Retrieved February 27, 2010.
  2. ^ "Tappan Zee Bridge 1955: Best, Longest, Safest". nyacknewsandviews. March 16, 2012. Retrieved February 5, 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Tappan Zee: Final section of bridge is removed". Lohoud. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
  4. ^ Melvin, Tessa (August 21, 1994). "If You're Thinking of Living in Tarrytown; Rich History, Picturesque River Setting". The New York Times. Retrieved December 30, 2007. The Dutch called this point, the river's widest, the Tappan Zee – Tappan probably for a group of Indians and Zee meaning "sea" in Dutch.
  5. ^ "Mario Just Might Have Been Easier". The New York Times. January 13, 1994. Retrieved February 27, 2010.
  6. ^ Ingraham, Joseph C. (May 7, 1950). "Port Bridge Plan Blocked by Dewey; Peril to Thruway Is Seen in Project at Dobbs Ferry for Link with Jersey Roads". The New York Times. p. 1. Retrieved July 18, 2008.
  7. ^ "CPI Inflation Calculator". bls.gov. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved September 24, 2014.
  8. ^ "That Thruway Bridge". The New York Times. May 10, 1952. p. 1. Retrieved July 18, 2008.
  9. ^ Ingraham, Joseph C. (May 12, 1950). "Port Body Gives In on Thruway Span; Accedes to Dewey's Orders and Will Let the Bridge Be Built Wherever His Engineers Say". The New York Times. p. 29. Retrieved July 18, 2008.
  10. ^ Brenner, Elsa (April 30, 2000). "Future of Bridge Stirs Bicounty Cooperation". The New York Times. Retrieved July 18, 2008. The site was selected to be as close to New York City as possible while escaping the 25-mile jurisdiction of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which apparently opposed the bridge because it would compete with the authority's own crossings.
  11. ^ Chen, David W. (January 30, 2000). "Ideas & Trends: A Bridge Too Long; The Cost of Urban Sprawl: Unplanned Obsolescence". The New York Times. Retrieved July 18, 2008. And because it is so long – built at the Hudson's widest point to escape the 25-mile jurisdiction of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey – it is unusually expensive to maintain, repair and, if necessary, replace.
  12. ^ Kestenbaum, David (August 19, 2011). "A Big Bridge In The Wrong Place". National Public Radio. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
  13. ^ Guide to Civil Engineering Projects In and Around New York City (2nd ed.). Metropolitan Section, American Society of Civil Engineers. 2009. p. 41.
  14. ^ Plotch, Philip Mark. Politics Across the Hudson: The Tappan Zee Megaproject Archived March 7, 2018, at the Wayback Machine. Rutgers University Press, New Jersey (2015). p. 13
  15. ^ Fitzgerald, Linda (2003). Portico: Annual Report to Alumni. University of Michigan College of Architecture and Urban Planning. The College of Architecture and Urban Planning. pp. 20–21.
  16. ^ "Thruway Fact Book" (PDF). New York State Thruway Authority. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 27, 2010. Retrieved February 27, 2010.
  17. ^ "The Thruway Bridge Opens". The New York Times. December 15, 1955. p. 36. Retrieved February 27, 2010.
  18. ^ "Tappan Zee Is Official; Governor Signs Bill Naming the Thruway Bridge". New York Times. February 29, 1956. p. 22. Retrieved February 27, 2010.
  19. ^ Moran, Nancy (August 13, 1970). "One‐Way Tolls Confusing Some Drivers". The New York Times. Retrieved April 9, 2018.
  20. ^ McGeehan, Patrick (January 17, 2006). "A Bridge That Has Nowhere Left to Go". The New York Times. Retrieved February 27, 2010.
  21. ^ "NY proposes steep toll increases for new Tappan Zee bridge". Reuters. August 4, 2012. Some alternatives to the Tappan Zee bridge are already more expensive. The George Washington Bridge, which crosses the Hudson River south of the Tappan Zee, has a cash toll of US$12, which is expected to rise to $15 in 2015.
  22. ^ "Tappan Zee Bridge has received 'poor' ratings". Poughkeepsie Journal. Gannett News Service. August 3, 2007. Retrieved August 9, 2008.
  23. ^ Thruway Authority; MTA Metro-North Railroad (June 2003). "Long List of Level 1 Alternatives". Tappan Zee Bridge Replacement. New York State. Archived from the original on February 14, 2012. Retrieved November 7, 2011.
  24. ^ Zhao, Yilu (July 24, 2003). "From 156 Options, Down to 15 Ways to Go on Tappan Zee". New York Times. Retrieved November 7, 2011.
  25. ^ Dept of Transportation; Thruway Authority; MTA Metro-North Railroad (January 2006). "Alternatives Analysis Report, Level 2". Tappan Zee Bridge Replacement. New York State. Archived from the original on February 14, 2012. Retrieved November 7, 2011.
  26. ^ "Legislator Day to Appear on History Channel Modern Marvel Series" (PDF) (Press release). June 17, 2009. Retrieved February 27, 2010.
  27. ^ a b Rice, Andrew (January 27, 2013). "Falling Down". New York. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  28. ^ "The Tappan Zee Is Falling Down". City Journal. 21 (2). 2011. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  29. ^ Neuman, William (September 26, 2008). "State to Replace, Not Rebuild, Tappan Zee Bridge". The New York Times. Retrieved February 27, 2010.
  30. ^ Khurram Saeed and Theresa Juva-Brown (December 17, 2012). "It's official: State picks builder for new Tappan Zee Bridge". 2012 www.lohud.com. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
  31. ^ US Federal Highway Administration (October 13, 2011). "Tappan Zee Hudson River Crossing Project Scoping Information Packet" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 30, 2011. Retrieved October 26, 2011.
  32. ^ Haughney, Christine (October 11, 2011). "U.S. Says It Will Expedite Approval to Replace Deteriorating Tappan Zee Bridge". New York Times. Retrieved November 7, 2011. The state will pay for the project by issuing $3 billion in bonds against its toll revenues; the remaining $2.2 billion will be financed with loans from labor pension funds and the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act.
  33. ^ "Opening day on new Tappan Zee Bridge shows sleek design, new features". News 12 Westchester. August 26, 2017. Archived from the original on August 26, 2017. Retrieved August 27, 2017.
  34. ^ Meaney, Michael G. (August 24, 2017). "Watch drone video of New York's new Tappan Zee Bridge". USA TODAY. Retrieved August 27, 2017.
  35. ^ "Rockland-bound traffic to begin traveling on new Tappan Zee Bridge". ABC7 New York. August 25, 2017. Retrieved August 27, 2017.
  36. ^ Berger, Joseph (June 1, 2017). "A Few Months Before Its Official Opening, Tappan Zee Bridge Is Drivable". The New York Times. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  37. ^ Coyne, Matt (September 28, 2017). "Mario Cuomo Bridge: Westchester-bound traffic to shift onto new bridge Oct. 6". lohud.com. Retrieved June 3, 2018.
  38. ^ DeWitt, Scott Willis, Karen (August 24, 2017). "Gov. Cuomo Opens Thruway Bridge Across the Hudson Amid Questions About Tolls".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  39. ^ "About". The New NY Bridge Project. October 12, 2015. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
  40. ^ Coyne, Matt (September 4, 2018). "Cuomo Bridge second span will open Saturday, enhanced bus service to start Oct. 29". lohud.com. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  41. ^ "Here's New Tappan Zee Bridge Traffic Shift Info, Timing For Second Span Opening". Greenburgh Daily Voice. January 27, 2018. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  42. ^ a b Zaveri, Mihir (September 8, 2018). "'Potentially Dangerous Situation' on Tappan Zee Delays Opening of New Cuomo Bridge Span". The New York Times. Retrieved September 9, 2018.
  43. ^ Mays, Jeffery C. (January 5, 2019). "Explosives to Be Used in the Demolition of a Tappan Zee Bridge Span". The New York Times. Retrieved January 15, 2019.
  44. ^ Berger, Joseph (December 25, 2017). "The End for the Tappan Zee Bridge Comes in Pieces, Not With a Boom". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 25, 2017.
  45. ^ Berger, Joseph (December 25, 2017). "The End for the Tappan Zee Bridge Comes in Pieces, Not With a Boom". The New York Times. Retrieved April 29, 2018.
  46. ^ Hu, Winnie (April 29, 2018). "Old Tappan Zee Bridge Gets New Life as Artificial Reef". The New York Times. Retrieved April 29, 2018.
  47. ^ "Old Tappan Zee Bridge will be demolished with explosives". The Boston Globe. Associated Press. January 4, 2019. Retrieved January 4, 2019.
  48. ^ "Tappan Zee Bridge demolition: How it will go down". westchester.news12.com. January 4, 2019. Retrieved January 5, 2019.
  49. ^ Kramer, Peter D. (January 10, 2019). "Saturday's boom goes bust; Tappan Zee demolition postponed after winds delayed prep work". lohud.com. Retrieved January 11, 2019.
  50. ^ Spivack, Caroline (January 11, 2019). "Tappan Zee Bridge demolition delayed due to high winds". Curbed NY. Retrieved January 11, 2019.
  51. ^ "Photos: Tappan Zee Bridge demolition". The Journal News. January 15, 2019. Retrieved January 15, 2019.
  52. ^ "Farewell to Thee, Our Old Tappan Zee! Bridge Demolished With Explosives". NBC New York 4. January 14, 2019. Retrieved January 15, 2019.
  53. ^ "Authorities Put Anti-Suicide Phones on TZ Bridge". WCBS-TV. August 29, 2007. Archived from the original on December 22, 2007. Retrieved February 13, 2008.
  54. ^ Shamburger, Merideth (July 12, 2011). "Naked Couple Who Jumped From T Z Bridge Identified". The Rivertowns Daily Voice. Retrieved July 26, 2012.
  55. ^ Lombardi, Kate Stone (May 11, 2008). "Struggling to Prevent Suicides at Tappan Zee". The New York Times. Retrieved February 27, 2010.
  56. ^ Merideth Shamburger, Redmond Zmudzien (December 28, 2011). "Family Members Tried to Stop Bridge Jumper". The Tarrytown Daily Voice. Retrieved July 5, 2012.
  57. ^ O'Connor, Timothy (October 14, 2012). "High anxiety: Trooper fights fear to save would-be Tappan Zee jumpers". Newsday. Retrieved October 16, 2012.
  58. ^ Berger, Joseph; Schweber, Nate (September 27, 2009). "As Body Is Found, Efforts to Make Sense of a Loss". The New York Times. Retrieved December 23, 2009.
  59. ^ Ryser, RobI'm; Liebson, Richard; Howard, Brian (June 10, 2010). "Army pvt. bound for Hood jumps from NY bridge". The Journal News. Westchester, NY. Retrieved June 10, 2010.

Further reading edit

External links edit