Archive for May, 2018|Monthly archive page

First Steel Beam from TZB: new Marine Life

“We are stewards for a brief period of time on this earth then we hand it off to the next generation. And our responsibility is to hand if off better and we will,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “If you are a bridge, the afterlife is you still serve a purpose. You don’t go up, you go down.”

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2018

Holiday Weekend: Keep in Mind Boater Safety

There’s a silence to this photo taken from seven and one-half miles south of the bridges. One bridge nearly completed and one partially-dismantled bridge that was cause for celebration and dismay when it opened: another way to cross the Hudson River at irreparable cost to a village.

Recently, I heard stories about the Tappan Zee Bridge from someone who moved to the area as a child and who loved to swim in the river it crossed. It must have been fun way back then to swim in a clean river with keeping cool the only aims.

While the Hudson’s not for humans it is for boats (neat segue, right?) as Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer. I’ve been on the Hudson numerous times, thanks to this project. Never been on a sailboat or a small craft. Hint, hint, maybe an invitation.

Remember, the project is still an active construction site. Earlier this month, the main span channel was closed when crews removed the center section of the old bridge.

Have fun, be safe, obey the rules and keep all required supplies, including first aid, aboard. Enjoy!

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2018

Sight Unseen: Activity Beyond the Car Windows

No fear of heights for whoever took the first two photos in this blog post or the above view of structural steel connecting the unfinished eastbound span to the Westchester landing. Photos courtesy of the New York State Thruway Authority.

After structural steel comes concrete deck panels. More than 6,000 precast ones, including those you and I drive on, have been placed so far.

You won’t see this from the road: the top view of a concrete barrier form that’s filled with steel rebar, which reinforces everything concrete on the new bridge.

Lots of progress on the Thruway Authority maintenance building, in final design. Maybe you missed this while driving by as we know your eyes were on the road.

The new barracks for state police is also shaping up on the Thruway’s south side.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2018

ICYMI: Building Bridges: New York Increases Infrastructure Plans

Tarrytown, N.Y. – During a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Hudson Valley’s newest bridge last August, Gov. Andrew Cuomo noted the state’s projects. “I believe our mojo is back. Our confidence is back, our energy is back, and we know and we have proven that there is nothing that we can’t do when we work together.”

The $1 trillion promise made by Donald Trump during his 2016 campaign was also on the governor’s mind. “So far, nothing has materialized,” Cuomo said, one day before the westbound span of the new Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, named after his late father, opened immediately north of the Tappan Zee Bridge it replaces. “But New York is not waiting for the federal government.”

Acknowledging deficient infrastructure exacerbated by dwindling money to repair or replace it – and now in office little more than one year – President Trump presented instead a $1.5 trillion infrastructure spending plan, a $200 billion package that shifts financial burden onto states and private investors during the next 10 years.

A $100 billion infrastructure plan outlined in Cuomo’s 2016 agenda includes modernizing several airports, building a new LaGuardia Airport, increasing the capacity of public transportation, renovating Penn Station, expanding the Javits Convention Center in New York City, and investing in roads, bridges and tunnels.

“There’s one word: commitment,” New York State Thruway Authority Executive Director Matthew J. Driscoll says. “It goes without saying there are a lot of infrastructure challenges, and we’re working closely with federal partners (and) our Congressional delegation.”

Equally important, Driscoll notes, are the 2,500 local-level projects across the state. “These are very important to local economies and transportation needs, and while it’s a big undertaking, the resources are there.”

Cuomo focused on replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge after talks in 1999 to include it in a 30-mile improvement project along Interstate 287 stalled for the next 10 years. Nearly 140,000 vehicles crossed the 3.1-mile Tappan Zee Bridge at one of the Hudson River’s widest points daily; the river was visible through cracks in the pavement even with the Thruway Authority’s recent deck replacement program that began in 2007 and continued into 2013.

“At times you can see the river through the cracks of the pavement,” then-President Barack Obama said about the Tappan Zee during a May 2014 visit to the Hudson Valley. “Now, I’m not an engineer, but I figure that’s not good.”

Key elements that determine the status of a bridge are its deck or its superstructure (above the deck) or the supports beneath the deck. Ratings are based upon biennial bridge inspections; state and local governments submit the data to the Federal Highway Administration as part of the National Bridge Inventory. “Not every bridge that gets fixed is structurally deficient,” American Road & Transportation Builders Association Economist Alison Premo Black says.

ARTBA reports the average age of a structurally deficient bridge is 67 years, compared to 40 years for non-deficient bridges; states have identified needed repairs on nearly one-third of U.S. bridges. The Tappan Zee Bridge was retired in early October, two months short of its 62nd birthday.

With support from Obama and the U.S. Department of Transportation through design-build legislation signed by Cuomo in December 2011 and a fast-tracked federal environmental review and procurement process, the Empire State’s bridge replacement project (named the New NY Bridge Project) forged ahead in early 2012 when the state released its Request for Proposals.

“Design-build ignites the private sector’s ability to innovate,” Driscoll says. “It’s worked well at the state level, too, as the Department of Transportation has completed projects with design-build. It’s more cost-effective and accelerates efforts.”

When a team is hired together, it can order supplies in advance, especially if there’s a shortage of materials and a six- to eight-week window before materials arrive. “This allows them to innovate and discuss what will and won’t work early on. For example, an architect may suggest something that is too expensive for a plumber to deliver on budget,” explains Lisa Washington, executive director and CEO at Design-Build Institute of America in Washington.

Consortium Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC (TZC) won the $3.98 billion contract thanks to its massive crane, the Left Coast Lifter (nicknamed I Lift NY) that reduced dredging needs by 50 percent and saved New York $1 billion. The projected cost was originally expected to exceed $5 billion. With the ability to lift 12 Statues of Liberty, the crane is hoisting and placing sections of steel and concrete onto the new bridge and is helping dismantle the old bridge. Its two moveable barriers and 133 of its deck panels will be sent to other state and local municipalities.

“Engineering professionals involved in project delivery, who regularly evaluate mistakes that make it from design to construction, observed around 80 percent of errors are created when the source engineering data is communicated through traditional plans sheets,” says Danny Kahler, principal at Kahler Engineering Group in Dallas and past chair of American Society of Civil Engineers Digital Project Delivery committee.

TZC is also using building information modeling (BIM), which is “one type of software, among many others, that helps manage the information of design and construction, especially in the vertical market,” Kahler says. “It’s the exploitation of the actual engineering data that has the potential to save time and money.”

The second span of the Cuomo Bridge is slated to open to traffic sometime this year and on budget with eight traffic lanes, four breakdown/emergency lanes, a state-of-the-art traffic monitoring system, a dedicated bus lane, room for future light rail, cashless tolling and LED lighting. Crews will then build the walking/bicycle path the new bridge’s northern span.

While the lower Hudson Valley’s newest bridge is the one of the nation’s largest infrastructure projects in the country, it has not been the only one. Two immense projects were the Interstate-35W Mississippi River Bridge in Minneapolis, which collapsed in 2007 during evening rush hour, and the Pentagon project just outside of the nation’s capital.

Even with harsh winters, the I-35W Bridge was completed in less than one year – three months ahead of schedule – and cost $234 million, excluding contractor bonuses for completing it earlier than planned. “The team committed to building it better and took a limited budget, partnering early on with the Minnesota Department of Transportation and building the bridge for a 100-year life span,” Washington says.

One of the nation’s largest design-build projects – the $1.2 billion, 20-year Pentagon Renovation Program (known as PenRen) – was already underway when the building was attacked on 9/11. Its model jump-started the post-9/11 Phoenix Project, which was launched immediately with a $500 million budget and a goal of reopening the damaged wings before the first anniversary. It was finished 28 days ahead of schedule and nearly $194 million under budget.

While states may have to jockey for federal money, the Empire State is taking the lead with robust plans. For the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project, Cuomo believes “it was our New York energy, our New York attitude, it was our New York drive that made it happen.”

My article was originally published in U.S. News & World Report April 2, 2018.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2018

My Thoughts: Cyclists go S-L-O-W-L-Y on SUP

The above photo is courtesy of Walkway Over the Hudson Historic State Park. You can see there is plenty of room for walking and bicycling, even side-by-side bicycling. Now check out far right lane of the new bridge’s westbound span below.

To the right of the broken line is where the shared use path will be built. Do they look the same? No. Are they the same width? No. Do you think a cyclist or a group of cyclists can safely rush to meet a train in Tarrytown or to get home after work if people are walking leisurely? You decide.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2018

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