The second and final span of the replacement Tappan Zee Bridge is set to open Saturday. The Tappan Zee is well on its way to being fully dismantled, and the new Mario Cuomo Bridge has been carrying traffic on the westbound span that opened about a year ago. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says the new bridge is set to reach a major milestone this weekend.
The Democratic governor says the eastbound span of the nearly $4 billion bridge that connects Rockland and Westchester Counties is scheduled to open September 8.
“We believe we saved $1 billion in the way we bid the project. And then we had incentives in the contract for the contractor to get it done ahead of schedule,” Cuomo says. “And, we are now at that time. And our plan is that the bridge will open this Saturday. Good Lord willing, there are no weather delays, no unforeseen circumstances.”
Cuomo toured the bridge Tuesday with bridge project director Jamey Barbas and acting director of the New York State Thruway Authority Matthew Driscoll.
Before the New Year, Barbas told WAMC she believed the bridge was on budget and on time, in part, because of the design build procurement method, which provides certainty about the basic project cost, an all-inclusive cost. The design-build firm for the project is Tappan Zee Constructors. Barbas did, at the time, point to a challenge.
“I think the biggest challenge on this project really is due to its scale because it’s such a big project both in dollar but in length, it’s over three miles long,” says Barbas.
Here’s Driscoll, also speaking to WAMC at the end of 2017.
“The new Mario Cuomo Bridge is certainly a game changer,” says Driscoll. “It’s something that everybody has talked about for decades. I think anybody who’s ever travelled that bridge at one point or another has always said, this needs to be replaced.”
Again, Cuomo, speaking Tuesday.
“As you know, it is the largest infrastructure project in the United States of America right now,” says Cuomo. “It was approved for a federal loan the last year of President Obama’s administration. And it was actually on the cover of his last budget.”
In May of 2014, Cuomo welcomed former President Obama to the banks of the Hudson River, on the Tarrytown side. Obama touted a sweeping transportation plan, spotlighting the replacement Tappan Zee Bridge that was under way, evidenced by the backdrop of cranes on the river.
“Thanks to their outstanding efforts, workers are building a replacement – the first new bridge in New York in 50 years,” Obama said. “It’s called the New New York Bridge, which is fine as a name, but for your next bridge you should come up with something a little more fresh.”
About the name… this past June, at the end of session, the state legislature approved naming the bridge in honor of Cuomo’s late father, former governor Mario Cuomo. Controversy over the name change has continued since. There is a petition with more than 100,000 signatures calling for the incorporation of Tappan Zee into the name to honor the region’s history. Plus, Cuomo has said the toll on the bridge is frozen through 2020, and that state finances will help dictate the toll thereafter. The current toll is $5 cash for basic passenger vehicles.
Meantime, Cuomo also announced that, beginning October 29, Hudson Link commuter bus service will take commuters to Metro-North rail stations in both Tarrytown and White Plains. The service will feature 19 new bus shelters along with new, 45-foot long buses that are being manufactured by Prevost, a company based in Plattsburgh. The buses will have USB charging stations and bike racks.
Cuomo also revealed that a competition will be held to commission two sculptures by state artists for the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge. Remnant steel salvaged from the retired Tappan Zee Bridge will be made available to the two winning artists to incorporate into their sculptures, which will be placed on designated state Thruway Authority-owned land on the Westchester side in Tarrytown and, on the Rockland side, in South Nyack, on the bridge’s bicycle and walking path in 2019. Further details about the competition will be provided at a later date, though artists are to be selected this year.