Why is the Bridge Curved? and other Questions

Outline of NYC buildings from RiverWalk Park in Tarrytown

Outline of NYC buildings from RiverWalk Park in Tarrytown

Last week Saint Peter’s University professor Philip Mark Plotch said gribbles were partly behind the state’s urgency to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge.

A few months before their terms expired, Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch and former MTA chairman told Paterson, “The time to address the Tappan Zee Bridge is imminent,” Plotch wrote.

Ravitch explained that Hudson River cleanup programs had been so effective that marine organisms were now able to thrive in the river and eat the wooden pilings on the bridge’s causeway. Paterson replied with a big smile, “Well, we’ll either have to solve the bridge problem or re-pollute the water.”

Paterson enjoyed his quip so much that he told Ravitch, “We’re going to have to put this in a book one day.”

Made you think, right?

Politics Across The Hudson: The Tappan Zee Megaproject was “my dissertation after receiving a Ph.D., a research project,” Plotch told a packed room at Nyack Library last week. “The question I wanted to answer in 2011 was, Why is the state studying what to do on the I-287 corridor year after year after year?”

I asked the author several questions after his talk to learn more.

What is the biggest misconception you feel people are told today?

Nothing ever goes perfect with a $4 billion, 3.1-mile-long bridge but we don’t hear about the problems the Thruway is dealing with.

Please talk about that “line” in the bridge.

The original designers introduced two hundred gaps (joints) in the deck so the bridge could accommodate settlement of the soft soils beneath the river. These gaps would later provide a direct route for deicing salts to leak onto the steel below. (page 13)

Why did Governor Cuomo call President Obama for support with bridge project?

Obama fast-tracked the TZB project/© Janie Rosman 2014

Obama fast-tracked the TZB project/© Janie Rosman 2014

Cuomo talked to Obama’s chief of staff because he (Cuomo) wanted the White House to streamline the regulatory process for the Tappan Zee Bridge.

As soon as the White House selected the Tappan Zee Bridge project, the federal agencies developed a memorandum of agreement to define the agencies’ roles and expectations. They committed to providing substantive comments with a short turn-around time. (page 169)

The federal government also set up a multiagency “permitting dashboard” at http://www.permits.performance.gov to track the status of the review process. This website monitored the work of eight different federal agencies and included contact names, responsibilities, and status. It was like posting ongoing report cards. One federal highway official said, “We knew people were looking over our shoulders,” and “everyone clicks their heels together when the president wants something.” (page 95)

What happened to the toll and financing task force?

Regarding the toll task force, clearly the state would rather not talk about future toll increases until it has to raise them.

What are your thoughts on design-build?

The state should save both money and time on the construction because it hired one firm to do both the design and build the bridge. Governor Cuomo knew how important it would be for the Tappan Zee project, which is why he pushed the legislature to allow the Thruway Authority to hire one firm to do both.

How do you know bridge would last more than 50 years (it turns 60 in December)?

The Thruway Authority dug through its records searching for anything that indicated it was designed to last for 50 years but they could never find anything.

Some feel the state withholds information despite claims of transparency. Initially they were unable to figure out the new Thruway’s exact route or which properties the state would need — or did they know and not tell?

“If they did (tell), then there would have been a lot of people upset along the entire route.” Plotch said. Governor Thomas E. Dewey kept the information hidden as long as he could and waited until he knew the specific properties needed for each section before announcing the Thruway’s path.

“One of the points of my talk was that in order to get things done, Cuomo had to minimize transparency, public participation and eliminate an overly expensive public transportation component. Dewey did the same thing,” he explained.

During a sound barrier meeting three years ago one irate resident asked why the state couldn’t build a straight bridge between the two counties. Robert Conway, Senior Vice President, AKRF Environmental, Planning and Engineering Consultants, replied, “It has to do with boundaries,” without mentioning the reason.

“That’s really interesting to me,” Plotch said. “Because that’s exactly the same way the Thruway Authority dealt with the issue in the early 1950s. They didn’t say what the boundary issue was, either. If the bridge wasn’t curved, then it would be within the Port Authority’s 25-mile jurisdiction, which starts at the Statue of Liberty.”

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2015

♪♫ Where oh Where Did My FOIL Request Go? ♪♫

Mobile floating concrete batch plant/© Janie Rosman 2014

Mobile floating concrete batch plant/© Janie Rosman 2014

Our story began nine and one-half months ago (December 16, 2014) when  one of the floating concrete batch plants’ silos took a nosedive. I wrote several post about it, including the status of subsequent concrete deliveries and the statement from Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC (TZC) President Darrell Waters.

I FOILed the Thruway Authority to find out what happened and why: “All correspondence sent by, and received from, Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC (TZC) between and including Monday, December 15, 2014, through Sunday, December 21, 2014, regarding failed floating concrete batch plant.”

While Records Access Officer Jill B. Warner replies within the specified time, all she tells me is she needs another (fill in the blank) number of weeks and ends her notes with, “I sincerely apologize for the delay. Thank you for your continued courtesy in this matter.”

Her most recent note, dated August 7, 2015, said, “Based on the continued review, and with due regard for POL § 89(3)(a), staff anticipates providing a response to your request on September 28, 2015.”

Today I asked the Department of State Committee on Open Government for assistance. Executive Director Robert J. Freeman replied with a detailed explanation of an agency’s duty to respond to a request in a timely manner.

Mr. Freeman wrote, “In short, an agency cannot engage in delay after delay after delay.  If that is your experience, I believe that you have the right to appeal and suggest that you might contact Ms. Warner to ascertain the identity of the person designated to determine appeals at the Authority.”

Today is September 28, and it is now past 10:30 p.m. Ms. Warner has replied to neither the note I sent this morning asking who is in charge of FOIL requests (re an appeal) nor has she kept within her time frame.

Unless Ms. Warner works overtime, I do not expect receiving a response tonight.

Ms. Warner, I appreciate that you have a great deal of responsibility. I have responsibilities, too.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2015

Update: Nyack Viewing Area Nears Completion

A gorgeous and windy day was perfect for checking out the view from Nyack.

info panels

Instead of a continuous height, the railing is height-adjusted behind the benches.

railing height

Main deck portable tables and chairs (box seats), a mix of seating and decking.


The $400,000 project was financed with $200,000 from the village and matching funds: $150,000 from the Environmental Protection Fund Local Waterfront Revitalization grant to build the pier and an ADA-compliant ramp plus a $50,000 grant from the bridge project’s Community Benefits Program.


Here are girder assemblies from the other side (no bridge rail blocking view).

other side

Both the Nyack and Tarrytown viewing areas are funded by grants — $49,500 to Tarrytown, and $50,000 to Nyack — from the Community Benefits Program.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2015

Project Aerial Views: Towers Continue to Rise

Life began imitating computer art three weeks ago when work began on the new bridge’s towers using building information modeling (BIM) 3D technology.

Blue jump forms will help build the main span's 419-foot towers./Photo: NYSTA

Blue jump forms will help build the main span’s 419-foot towers./Photo: NYSTA

Here’s what the project looked like yesterday via photographs taken by Lee Ross. One of the floating concrete batch plants can be seen alongside the towers.

photo 1

West/northbound traffic will shift to one of the new spans next December.

photo 2

In February 2017, east/southbound traffic will also move to the new span.

photo 3

Read more about the process for building the towers here.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2015

Southbound On-Ramp in S. Nyack Closes 10 p.m.

It’s Friday night, and you’re out with friends. When you’re ready to drive home — if you live across the river, that is — be aware the southbound on-ramp in South Nyack is closed; access it via Route 59 in Nyack.


More lane closures began tonight (one at 8 p.m.) and continue next week.


A complete rundown of project activity is here.

A few people asked why I post these updates and if I work for the state or for the bridge project. I post them for information (how to subscribe is here). Several times I drove home and right into signs that indicated lanes are closed (yes, I admit this). Full disclosure: I am a reporter and work for neither the state nor the bridge project.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2015


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