Why Traffic Always Goes in the Other Direction

Sometimes it just happens that way/© Janie Rosman 2014

Sometimes it just happens that way/© Janie Rosman 2014

Four nearly empty lanes. Cars zipping along merrily (as nana used to say). On the drive back from Rockland County, I thought about the New NY Bridge video. Would be nice to have this all the time. Soon.

Meantime . . .

Remember when I saw the Tappan Zee Bridge Patrol rescue a car in the bridge’s right lane a few months ago? I wanted to know more about the folks who drive the three-mile span, and how the highway is widened.

Inside this is the vehicle that moves the zipper barrier from west to east./Steve Alpert at http://www.alpsroads.net.

Inside this is the vehicle that moves the zipper barrier from west to east./Steve Alpert at http://www.alpsroads.net.

Installed back in 1993, the movable barrier takes 45 minutes to snake one way. Four become three, and then vice versa —  lanes, that is — depending upon the time of day, construction, or other traffic factors.

Factoids . . .

Although moving the zipper at 2:30 p.m. adds a lane for bridge-bound vehicles before rush hour, traffic persists. Maybe they’re not even going to the bridge. It’s the other side. Or maybe, like I often am, you’re in that jam. Around 7 p.m., the zipper truck reverses the process so folks driving east/southbound can have their fair share of highway.

On the way to Tarrytown Third Friday/© Janie Rosman 2014

On the way to Tarrytown Third Friday/© Janie Rosman 2014

So who drives the two zippers machines?

They’re maintained by six Thruway employees with the title “Movable Barrier Operator,” who also do maintenance work on and around the bridge. All operators/drivers are trained in-house by experienced, veteran Thruway staff.

However . . .

Once the new bridge’s first span opens in late 2016, it’s bye-bye zipper. The plan is to move west/northbound traffic to the new span in December, and two months later, in February 2017, east/southbound traffic will also move to the new span.

Where the zipper barrier stays when on the Tarrytown side of the bridge./Steve Alpert at http://www.alpsroads.net.

Where the zipper barrier stays when on the Tarrytown side of the bridge./Steve Alpert at http://www.alpsroads.net.

Thruway maintenance crews regularly patrol the bridge to make sure there’s no debris in the roadway, and that motorists in distress get needed aid.

What about driving someone’s car across the bridge?

While the Thruway Authority has no official driver escort policy, guess what? Its patrol team is available to help if motorists with bridge phobias want their cars driven across the three-mile span. And they do, a few times every year.

That one question . . .

Sometimes people ask if it’s true about seeing the river through cracks in the road. What? The Thruway Authority spent three-quarters of a million dollars on a deck replacement project.

What I look for — now that I know where it is — is the blue-and-white sign for County of Rockland/County of Westchester. And realize for a few seconds my car and I are in two places at the same time. That’s mind-boggling enough.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2014

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