Inside Story of how TZC built the new TZ Bridge

Four years after its first foundational steel piles were driven into the river bed, one span of the new Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge connecting Westchester and Rockland counties in New York State opened to westbound traffic this past August.

Following a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the twin span, cable-stayed bridge named after his father, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo drove eastbound across the new span with Sleepy Hollow resident and Bronze Star recipient Armando “Chick” Galella in a 1955 Corvette, the same model year Corvette Galella drove with Governor W. Averell Harriman as part of the Tappan Zee Bridge’s December 15, 1955, inaugural procession.

This remarkable transition reflects the tireless efforts of thousands of men and women from Tappan Zee Constructors (TZC), a consortium of some of the world’s best-known and most highly-regarded design, engineering and construction firms.

In October, and weeks ahead of schedule, the Tappan Zee Bridge was retired, and eastbound traffic moved from that bridge to the new span. This allowed the design-build team to begin dismantling the old structure — including the steel and concrete above River Road in Rockland County — and to continue work on the eastbound span, which will open in 2018.

TZC’s first task involved removing the old bridge’s landings, which occupy the same footprint as the second span’s connections to the New York State Thruway. This was accomplished by cutting and dividing sections of steel and concrete into manageable sections, then using barge-based cranes to transport the materials away from the project site.

Transportation barges will carry the materials to ancillary facilities including the Port of Coeymans in Albany County. Many concrete materials and steel trusses will be recycled. More than 130 deck panels units, each approximately 13 feet wide by 50 feet long, will also be given to nearly a dozen state and local municipalities to be repurposed for other bridges and roadways.

Upcoming key operations include lowering of the old bridge’s main span steel cage via hydraulic jacks, and the removal of piles, piers and caissons with foundational material being removed below the bottom of the river. TZC will continue to remove pieces of the old bridge throughout the year, starting from the Rockland and Westchester landings and working toward the middle of the Hudson River.

Work on the new bridge’s eastbound span will continue throughout 2017 and into 2018. Once it opens to traffic, crews will begin building the new bicycle and pedestrian path on the westbound span. Features include six overlooks (resting points), visitor parking and pavilions; and interpretive exhibits, art and signage.

The Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge features an aesthetic lighting system that accentuates the iconic features of the new bridge, specifically its 419-foot towers, stay cables and concrete piers. TZC conducted numerous lighting tests throughout the year to help confirm the aiming angles of each lighting fixture, which needed to precisely follow the rendering plan set forth by lighting designers.

The project’s Visual Quality Panel, made up of the local community and design professionals, helped TZC develop the lighting plan. TZC prepared for these systems well in advance, installing parts of the utility and systems infrastructure into the steel girder assemblies that were fabricated offsite, reducing the amount of work required over the Hudson River.

Once the steel was safely secured atop the bridge’s concrete piers, TZC electricians began splicing and extending material, tying the bridge utilities into the systems in Rockland and Westchester counties. Utility lines provide electricity for the roadway and aesthetic lighting systems, and will also power the bridge’s structural health monitors, security systems and Intelligent Transportation Systems.

Much like the bridge’s roadway lighting, the aesthetic lighting utilizes energy-efficient light emitting diodes, or LEDs. The project’s LEDs are designed with 100,000-hour lifespans, using an estimated 75 percent less energy compared to traditional lighting technology.

TZC is utilizing modular construction techniques to create large sections of the bridge’s foundations, roadway and superstructure on-land. This allows TZC to safely prepare massive segments of the bridge off-site ahead of time, with some steel sections measuring up to 410 feet in length. Its ability to install these bridge elements is aided by the I Lift NY, whose enormous 328-foot lift arm can lift up to 1,900 tons of material — the equivalent of 12 Statues of Liberty at once.

This extraordinary lifting power, which shortened construction time by months from original estimates and reduce project costs by millions of dollars, will also help dismantle the old Tappan Zee Bridge.

Other innovative equipment includes: TZC’s mobile concrete batch plants that supply the majority of the structure’s concrete directly on the river, self-climbing jump forms that rose along with construction efforts to create the iconic main span towers, protective bubble curtains used to absorb the energy produced during pile driving; and the synchronized jacks used to lower football-field-length foundations into the Hudson River.

TZC is also constructing two buildings in Tarrytown: the Thruway Authority’s new maintenance facility and a new State Police facility. The buildings will improve bridge access for State Police and Thruway personnel responsible for maintenance, operations and security and will also allow emergency crews to quickly respond to vehicle breakdowns on the new bridge.

Crews created a new maintenance dock parallel to the new bridge in South Nyack. The dock will assist the Thruway Authority and emergency vessels near the new bridge.

Intelligent Transportation Systems will improve safety and mobility on the crossing by monitoring roadway conditions and notifying Thruway Authority staff of any disruptions. Motorists will also be informed of accidents and closed lanes through overhead electronic signage, enhancements that have been shown to minimize delays, allowing the public to get the most out of its investment.

The stream of data from the bridge’s sensors will be tracked at the Thruway Authority’s command center through an advanced Structural Health Monitoring System that will measure the twin-span crossing’s structural behavior under traffic and weather conditions. Routine and preventive maintenance work will also be efficiently scheduled with this state-of-the-art system. This vital communication network will make the bridge one of the most technologically advanced crossings in the United States when it opens in 2018.

Submitted by Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC (TZC) for the December 2017 issue of Rivertown Magazine. Photos courtesy of the New York State Thruway Authority.

On Location with more than a Thousand Words

Looking good: the shared use path on the Westchester side gets new LED roadway lighting stanchions (columns) for safety and visibility. Path construction in South Nyack begins in 2018. Photos courtesy of the New York State Thruway Authority.

How they get there (Tappan Zee Bridge and under-construction eastbound span) from here (land): by boat as both are independent of land. Back to river travel.

Check out this view inside the cage of a 300-ton crane. Like the super crane did, this will place steel girders onto newly-minted piers near the Rockland landing.

Mighty big for pick-up sticks, right? Above, the rebar sections being cut will be or were installed within concrete. FYI, a tiny piece of rebar is heavier than it looks.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2017

Above, below where TZB sections were Removed

My drive had a purpose: view the super crane and the Tappan Zee Bridge minus several sections. I missed the mark yet didn’t have to use my E-ZPass® again (a second attempt) because of this photo.

Aerial view of the new bridge and old bridges/Photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/State of New York

Partially obstructed by a tree at RiverWalk, the super crane is poised near the Westchester shoreline, where it’s been removing sections of the Tappan Zee.

Two months ago we drove on steel girders and deck panels atop piers (below).

Worker walking on a pier near the Westchester landing that will soon be dismantled/NYSTA

One of many photos I took last weekend, this depicts a snippet of past, present and future: Tappan Zee piers without girders and concrete deck panels, present new span and two future in-progress piers.

Although it’s exciting to report about the project, seeing this today en route to Westchester was disconcerting to say the least. Update: Project officials posted another view.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2017

Sneak Peek at NYS Police Troop T’s Future Home

Today your intrepid reporter visited the project site. The above New York State Thruway Authority photo shows only one side so, camera in hand . . .

I drove past the fork in the road and was stopped by a guard. After a few minutes of talking, I took a few photos of the structure from an “invisible via car” side.

* * * * *

Several years earlier, residents in the 40-home neighborhood bordering the bridge were concerned about how vehicles would access the construction site, safety for kids playing, school buses and the nearby JCC.

The area was quiet and clean this afternoon; the only visible signs of construction were structures (seen here) towering over a metal fence guarded by security. Past the cars and the Thruway is the new maintenance facility with new metal panels.

Personal note: A big thank you with gratitude and appreciation to everyone who supported me during the past stressful week. Mom was taken to the hospital one week ago Friday with multiple complications and was discharged yesterday with renewed spirit and appetite.

Needing to make a decision about mom in addition to other responsibilities, I kept putting one foot in front of the other. I’m relieved her health has improved and that she’s in a new facility to help her regain mobility and balance.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2017

ArtsWestchester Gala celebrates Bridge Project

Bridge at sunset, enhanced by aesthetic lighting/Photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/State of New York

Last Saturday, ArtsWestchester‘s gala 2017 fundraiser celebrated the new bridge as a work of art, honoring project director Jamey Barbas, P.E., and Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC (TZC).

Honorees and appreciation award recipients: public outreach coordinator Andrew P. O’Rourke, Jr., project director Jamey Barbas, P.E., TZC president Terry Towle and Business Council of Westchester president and CEO Dr. Marsha Gordon/Photo: Leslye Smith

Appreciation awards were given to Business Council of Westchester president and CEO Dr. Marsha Gordon and public outreach coordinator Andrew P. O’Rourke, Jr.

Arts in the region “brings us closer to our neighbors on the other side of the bridge,” ArtsWestchester CEO Janet Langsam said three summers earlier.

ArtsWestchester CEO Janet Langsam at gala honoring bridge project/Photo: Leslye Smith

The nonprofit was one of four groups collaborating on the 2014 Bridge Art Show that linked the project to creative populations in Nyack and Tarrytown. “It’s symbolic of connections and metaphorically working together.”

Congratulations to those who were recognized as we follow this exciting project.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2017

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