Ahead of Thursday's New York State primary, news has come out that in July Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration might have enticed the contractor building the new Mario M. Cuomo Bridge to speed up construction in order to finish it ahead of its late August deadline. The 1.3-mile bridge opened late last night instead, two days before voters hit the polls. Critics are claiming that Cuomo rushed the bridge's construction, potentially dangerously so, in order to tout its completion during his competitive primary race against Cynthia Nixon. The New York Times snagged an internal document this week reporting that Tappan Zee Constructors were incentivized to open the bridge’s eastbound span by August 24 in exchange for the New York Thruway Authority potentially absorbing “premium additional costs.” The state also said it would pay for any possible accidents that might occur if construction continued on the bridge while traffic flowed upon opening. Vox reported yesterday that the second section of the twin-span, cable-stayed bridge was set to open August 15, but due to construction delays the date was pushed back by 10 days. In the document, a letter from Jamey Barbas, the state official overseeing the project to TZC president Terry Towle, Barbas detailed her reasons for asking the contractors to ramp up their efforts. The NYT wrote that Barbas said the extension and concessions are “part of the normal give-and-take between the state and its contractors.” While Governor Cuomo said Sunday in a press conference that he denies having any influence over the bridge’s timetable, the letter suggests otherwise as the Thruway Authority is a key part of his administration. Additionally, according to the NYT, the Governor outright admitted his involvement. “We’ve been accelerating the second span,” he said. “And Jamey and Matt [Driscoll, Thruway Authority executive director] have been doing everything they can to shave time because the sooner we open the bridge, the sooner the traffic comes down.” After further schedule changes, the bridge was supposed to open last Saturday, but due to weather concerns and safety issues, cars only began passing through the second span into Westchester yesterday. The governor announced its completion in a big ceremony last Friday that included a congratulatory speech by Hillary Clinton. Throughout his campaign to be reelected as governor, Cuomo has repeatedly praised the many infrastructure projects his administration has achieved over the last 12 years. While the bridge, named after his late father and former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, is a much-needed project set to replace the 63-year-old Tappan Zee Bridge, critics argue that the Governor’s aim was to use its rapid completion as a ploy for good press. This weekend, Cuomo’s gubernatorial opponents Marc Molinaro and Cynthia Nixon both called for an investigation into the bridge controversy, according to ABC 7 New York. The administration claims that hours after Friday’s ceremony, workers found a flawed joint in the old Tappan Zee structure that could have caused part of it to fall. Because of its proximity to the new bridge, officials shut down construction and postponed Saturday's opening. The first span of the Mario M. Cuomo bridge was finished in August 2017. As of this year, both Cuomo and the Thruway Authority said it would be done by 2018, but, while cars are already crossing over part, construction is still underway. When finally finished, the bridge will include eight traffic lanes, a bike and pedestrian path, as well as room for future bus transit and commuter trains.
Posts tagged with "Tappan Zee Bridge":
Bridges. They can be grand and majestic, awe-inspiring symbols of engineering ingenuity, city-defining pieces of infrastructure, and, as you may have heard by now, at serious risk of collapsing. To stop that from happening, engineers basically have two options: repair or replace. Both of those strategies are currently pursued in the New York City region. As the New York Times explains in a new video, the Tappan Zee Bridge was in such bad shape that it made more sense to just build a new bridge right next to it at the cost $3.9 billion. When complete, the new structure will have express bus lanes, and a bike and pedestrian pathway. Now, obviously, the Brooklyn Bridge isn't going anywhere, but the aging icon does need to have some work done. Instead of replacing the structure, the bridge has remained open while construction crews have been reconstructing its ramps and approaches, replacing 600 bridge bearings, and removing lead paint.
Jeffery Koons, perhaps best known for his quirky stainless steel glossy sculptural reproductions of balloon dogs, has been called upon by Governor Andrew Cuomo to help decide what the new Tappan Zee bridge will look like. Koons, along with Richard Meier, winner of the Pritzker Prize for Architecture, and Thomas Campbell, Metropolitan Museum of Art Director, were named to the selection design team that will provide counsel on the construction of the Tappan Zee replacement bridge. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the decision in a press conference Wednesday. Meier’s most notable work includes the Getty Center in Los Angeles, the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art and the Jubilee Church in Rome. The design team will offer advice on the bridge’s aesthetics and visual compatibility with the surrounding nature. “Another day, another big step toward creating a new bridge to replace the Tappan Zee which will be stronger, safer, better as well as one which will live up to the beauty and splendor of the Hudson River,” said Cuomo in a written statement issued earlier in the day. “For this project we are creating a different kind of selection team… a team that combines technical experts, architectural experts, local experts, as well as artists to ensure the new bridge is the best choice and fit for the region.” Cuomo will appeal for a 2.7 billion dollar federal government loan for the 5 billion dollar bridge, which has an anticipated construction date starting in early 2013 and expected completion date of 2017. The deteriorating current bridge, the longest in New York, was constructed in 1955 and crosses the Hudson River at one of its widest points between Westchester and Rockland counties.