The New York State Thruway Authority has released three design renderings for the replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge in Westchester and Rockland Counties of New York. The Tappan Zee Bridge, a 57 year span, which carries the New York State Thruway (Interstates 87 and 287) over the Hudson River, is currently beyond its expected life span of 50 years. The current bridge is a regular bottleneck of traffic, an environmental nightmare and has cost more than $750 Million in maintenance in the last 10 years.
The three new designs were revealed today via a PowerPoint presentation to the public. All three options range in cost between $3.142 Billion to $4.059 Billion. The first two designs ($3.142 Billion and $3.990 Billion respectively) are each mass transit ready, thus permitting Metro North and or Amtrak to operate trains over the span, thus further alleviating traffic. The third option could be made mass transit read at an additional cost. Governor Cuomo is supporting the first option, which in addition to being the cheapest option, also has the quickest estimated construction time (5 years, 2.5 months versus 5 years, 11 months for the other two options), and the least amount of dredging necessary (951,000 cubic yards versus 1.55 to 1.8 million cubic yards for the remaining two proposals). It is noted that all three options are below the Governor's estimated cost of $5 Billion for the project.
Whichever design is ultimately selected, one thing is clear, the current span is inadequate. It is one of the most dangerous portions of the Thruway, with double the accident rate of the rest of 574-mile long Thruway. Given the importance of this span to the region and to the economies of New York City, Westchester and Rockland Counties, replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge is a must. Construction is currently slated to begin in 2013, with design selection occurring on December 17, 2012.