Archive for the ‘Governor Andrew Cuomo’ Category

Exit to Exit: a Whole Lotta Traffic In-between

You can see traffic slogging along westbound per EarthCam® camera at Westch. landing

Memorial Day Weekend. The. Westbound. Span. Should. Have. Been. Opened.

Woulda, shoulda, coulda says nothing about the fact that it hasn’t and isn’t.

During a late afternoon drove to Rockland for copies of this week’s Rockland County Times, which has my story about a woman who advocates for senior housing and safety at home, I got stuck in traffic.

I’m home waiting for a FedEx delivery that requires a signature so I’ll tell you about yesterday’s driving experience.

Silly me. It’s a holiday weekend, and the vehicular madness was well underway by the time I merged onto crowded, no, packed, 287 from the Sprain. Inching from Exit 2 to Exit 1 was a challenge; once on the Thruway, it took about 20 minutes to drive from Exit 9 (Tarrytown) to Exit 10 (South Nyack).

I miss Ramp E, the South Broadway (Route 9) entrance ramp to the bridge in Tarrytown. I really miss it when I’m in that area and have to travel west as its absence continues to cause traffic nightmares.

In its place the state is building a new facility, which drivers and I saw from the other side:

It’s ironic that the new bridge will change nothing about congestion choking 287 on its own and as arteries, like Westchester Avenue and the Sprain, merge onto it. This new bridge will offer cars and trucks — they NEED to be in their own lane! — an easy, breezy 3.1 miles of travel until bridge meets land, and the madness continues in Rockland.

What gives? The westbound span was set to open last December 2016, then in early 2017. Somewhere, sometime, project officials starting saying the bridge, shared use path (including in South Nyack), maintenance facility and new state police barracks will open in 2018.

When the super crane arrived at the project site in October 2014, Governor Cuomo held a press conference and was asked about potential tolls.

“We don’t know how much we will we get from the federal government, how much we will get from the state; there are state loans and grants we can access,” he said, citing the variables. Additional unknowns are the built-in contract incentives for Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC (TZC) to finish the project before spring 2018 or penalties for completing it later.

Spring 2018 is 12 months from now, which is nearly summer if you consider it’s Memorial Day Weekend and an unofficial start of summer.

So crews need to finish the whole shebang before June 21, 2018, the real start of summer. Will the bridge builder be penalized for finishing the project one day later? Stay tuned.

It’s too bad New York State made this into a bridge project instead of sticking to a corridor project. The 287 construction was finished nine months ahead of schedule, and I’m sure (though I don’t remember) traffic “flowing smoothly” four or five years ago.

Several people working on the project told me it would be impossible to widen 287. What was the point of building a bridge between two congested highways without considering the motorists who use them?

I covered the Mass Transit Task Force meetings, where this exchange took place during the final get-together:

“Who will take the initiative to make sure the recommendations will move forward?” State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (88th District) asked. State DOT Commissioner Joan McDonald replied, “Our charge was to make recommendations. It’s up to the governor and the Thruway Authority to see what are the next steps.”

The governor said on January 29, 2013 — 11 days after the bridge builder received the A-OK to begin — that completion of 287’s reconstruction and the bridge project represent how his administration cut through government dysfunction. It’s all well and good to have plans; however, as my mom’s cousin Helen used to say, “You have to look down the road a piece.”

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2017

Free Coffee and Tea tonight to Thruway Drivers; Last New Year’s Eve on Current Tappan Zee

cuomo-and-officials

‘Tis the last New Year’s Eve for driving across the Tappan Zee Bridge, whose replacement waits to take a new place in Hudson Valley and New York State history.

“This bridge says that when you reject the naysayers, when you reject the doubt, when you reject the insecurity, when you find the confidence and the commonality, and you take all that negative energy and you turn it into positive energy, there is nothing you can’t do,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said earlier this month. “You find that confidence and you find that spot of cooperation and you turn that energy positive, and the sky is the limit.”

If you’re on the Thruway and need to take five or stretch your legs, then stop at any of its 27 travel plazas for free hot coffee and tea from 11 p.m. tonight until 7 a.m. tomorrow.

Wishing you happy and healthy New Year! May the best of last year be the worst of next, and remember, please don’t drink and drive.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2016

TZB Year Four: Progress and Milestones

main-span

Construction on the new 3.1-mile, $3.98 billion project progressed at a brisk pace since June and reached a halfway point in early August.

The new towers — several now with stay cables that are also attached to roadway — and blue girder assemblies paralleling the current span are most apparent. There’s more.

Main span towers and cables

This summer Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC (TZC) began installing the first of 192 stay cables (July) on the as-yet-unfinished westbound towers to the main span road deck. Each cable contains bundles of metal strands covered in protective sheaths; placed end-to-end the total is 14 miles of sheathing encasing 700 miles of strands.

By September the westbound towers reached their eventual 419-foot heights, and crews removed the self-climbing forms to reveal chamfered (angled) tops.

Twelve pairs of cables are anchored to each side of the towers and tensioned to outside sections of structural steel. The cable bundles increase in size as they move away from the towers to support the 74-million-pound main span roadway.

All four westbound towers are finished; the eastbound towers will be finished by this month. At press time (mid-November) more than 40 of the 192 cables were installed on the westbound span; when finished, crews will focus on the eastbound span’s cables.

close-to-rigging-setting-the-strut

Constructing the roadway

Also in July the first 40-foot-long steel sections and prefabricated road deck panels were installed across the main span crossbeams and working outward in each direction.

When the steel and deck panels extended far enough from the crossbeams — as when the towers reached a certain height — workers began attaching and tensioning the cables that will support the main span roadway, and then the roadway will built across the main span channel.

Final structural steel was installed as much as can be on the eastbound span in mid-September and completed on westbound span in early October. Crews are now installing road deck panels.

By next spring/summer traffic will shift to the westbound span so the super crane can start dismantling the current bridge, and work will resume on the eastbound span.

The first LED roadway lighting stanchions (columns) were attached to the westbound span, and workers installed three “turnarounds” — two on the Rockland approach span and one on the Westchester approach span — so emergency responders can quickly get to the either span in case of an accident.

Water lines were installed underneath the bridge’s roadway and will connect to hydrants staggered on the inside and outside lanes. These hydrants will be fed from a dry system (not filled with water until needed) in winter and a water-pumped system during summer months.

river-layers

Educational outreach

The five-year program corresponds to each year of construction and explains the project clearly using understandable terms. Presentations include visuals, examples and props — a piece of galvanized steel rebar (piers, towers), a section of metal strand (stay cables), a square of clear plastic (border wall of walking path).

Educators like Cottage Lane Elementary School teacher Jacob Tanenbaum say they “match exactly what our (technology and science) students are studying in their various classrooms,” which is bridge design.

Engineering, information technology and green building (sustainable design) students at Hudson Valley P-TECH (The New York State Pathways in Technology Early College High School program) in Piermont were interested in traffic patterns when the current bridge is dismantled and how the new bridge will carry the same 140,000-per-day vehicle load. Others wanted to when the spans would open, project costs and projected tolls.

“We have a group of engineering students who are Engineering 105 right now,” P-TECH Principal Natasha Shea. “It’s part of their curriculum with RCC, and they have to design and build a bridge, so this fits into what they’re learning.”

Marjan Perry’s third-grade class at Liberty Elementary School reads the fictional Pop’s Bridge by Eve Bunting about two boys whose fathers are helping build the Golden Gate Bridge. “They learn all jobs are important, and that projects require teamwork,” she said.

The new bridge is featured in Nyack Public Schools’ new logo created by several high school art students and on the district’s home page. Its inscription reads, “Building bridges for today’s students to cross into tomorrow’s world with equality, innovation and optimism.”

metal-strand-and-cross-sectionInspiring by example

“When I was your age I didn’t know what an engineer did, I didn’t know any engineers,” or in high school or on college, Project Director Jamey Barbas told a group of sixth and seventh-grade girls recently.

Several in Barbas’ workshop about bridge structures — part of a WizGirls conference hosted by AAUW Westchester that encourages young girls to explore technology and computer science — nodded. After learning about tension and compression, they applied their new knowledge by assembling mini LEGO® bridges.

“Events like (these) are unique opportunities to bring awareness to young women of careers in engineering,’ she reflected later. Equally meaningful was her message that you can always change direction.

Barbas was a premed student and took a biomedical engineering class in college, thinking it would assist her in medicine. Intrigued, she switched her studies and career goals.

Legislative mandates/commitments

To comply with the DBE (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise) program, mandated by the US Department of Transportation for federally-funded projects, TZC committed to a 10 percent goal ($314 million).

The project costs $3.98 billion ($3.14 billion plus administrative and contract costs)

Through September 2016 TZC recorded $247.9 million in contract-value commitments to DBE firms. Of the 245 trade contractors and professional firms hired for the project, 112 are DBE firms.

One contractor, New York Geomatics, provides surveying and layout.

“We do the office engineering via state-of-the-art computer programs, figuring where to drill, where to pour the concrete and where to place the steel,” Senior Project Surveyor Nobile Basile explained. On the bridge project it places up to four two-man survey crews on the water, and two two-person crews on land, daily.

In some cases, the company devised innovative ways to use equipment for some tasks.

Basile observed during the past three years, “Some surveyors lay out a high rise building, some work on roads or boundary; this project involves every type of surveying and layout, including some in-house, out-of-the-box solutions, It’s been a challenge but we’ve been able to meet expectations.”

night-photo

Looking ahead

Workers began prepping the former toll plaza site in Tarrytown for foundation work on the new 26,000-square-foot Thruway Authority maintenance facility. Traffic shifts in October and November paved the way for crews to start building the new state police barracks south of the Thruway.

“Our consulting firm, VHB, is writing its final analysis for how we can develop Interchange 10 and make it profitable for our residents,” South Nyack Mayor Bonnie Christian, said excited about the positive plans for the village. TZC is using those 14 acres as a staging area.

Last month the Thruway Authority and the village jointly presented South Nyack’s preferred concept, “Alternative F,” for the shared use path and terminus to the community. “We’re pleased both the Thruway Authority and the state were sensitive to our needs,” she said.

For information about the project or its educational outreach program, visit http://www.newnybridge.com/contact/.

Photos courtesy of New York State Thruway Authority and HJ.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2016

Throwback Thursday: Then to Later to Now

Side by side are current bridge and new main span towers alight in the river/© H. Jackson

Side by side are current bridge and new main span towers alight in the river/© H. Jackson

So much awesomeness — it’s not a word; I’m taking editorial liberties — on this project to sort through this year. Two articles in Rivertown Magazine (July and December issues) covered activities through November with a look-see for coming months; here are some notable events from 2016 and earlier.

The first main span crossbeam was set in place, consultants hired by South Nyack presented plans for redeveloping land near Exit 10, the 1,000th road deck panel was placed, the bridge builder was recognized for its excellent safety record, one of the cranes collapsed mid-summer, and the first stay cables were installed days later.

scouting for POTUS visit

Watching the police scout the area with dogs prior to President Obama’s arrival (May 2014) was fascinating . . and then I heard the president’s voice via microphone at Sunset Cove Restaurant.

When the Secret Service asked us to place our belongings in a line and then step back, I forgot I’d left my pocketbook open after putting my ID into my wallet and placing that into my pocketbook. Too late. “Step back!” the agent barked at me as dogs began sniffing our cameras, bags, backpacks, etc.

The super crane arrived here — and Governor Cuomo welcomed it — that fall; two calendar turns later the project reached another milestone: the towers were completed.

Spring after the project started: “Figure Sitting at RiverWalk Park”/© Janie Rosman 2013

Spring after the project started: “Figure Sitting at RiverWalk Park”/© Janie Rosman 2013

Few thought the bridge would reach 60; it won’t see a 62nd year. With the eight towers complete, the self-climbing forms being removed, stay cables being added and space lessening between the westbound main span and the Westchester and Rockland approach spans, its days are numbered.

During the ride to to Nyack last week for copies of the December issue I told mom to watch for a sign to her right. I saw it and pointed, and she giggled. It remains to be seen if it will have a place on the new bridge, and if so, then where?

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2016

Infrastructure & New York State: the TZB Now

Governor Andrew Cuomo fielding reporters’ questions on the new bridge/© J Rosman 2016

Governor Andrew Cuomo fielding reporters’ questions on the new bridge/© J Rosman 2016

We stepped back and walked to orange cones on the northern side of the span, where Governor Coumo would answer reporters’ questions.

I wanted to ask the governor if he planned to invite President-elect Trump to the project site, especially since Trump bemoaned U.S. infrastructure at an October 14, 2015, rally in Richmond, Virginia.

“We’re like a Third World country,” he said. “Our airports, our roads, our bridges are falling down. Sixty-one percent of our bridges are in trouble. Do you believe this? We drive over a bridge, it’s in trouble.”

Although I never had a chance to pose my question it was partly answered in response to another reporter’s question. Cuomo also discussed the topic with businessman and former NYC mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis on the CATS Roundtable (AM 970) last weekend.

westbound-span

“Governor, New Yorkers have the most powerful man in the United States Senate, Chuck Schumer, and we have the President of the United States in Washington,” Catsimatidis said. “Can the two of them help New York State? Have you talked to them about a commitment about getting federal funds like Roosevelt got for Robert Moses?”

“I spoke to President-elect Trump to congratulate him after he was elected and one of the first things he went to was infrastructure because he’s a builder, and his point was we don’t build anymore,” Cuomo said. “He (Trump) pointed out that we do build in New York and he’s coming up with a big infrastructure program.”

“We have $100 billion,” he said. ” The largest commitment in modern political history for infrastructure, et cetera. Airports all over the state. Roads and bridges all over the state. The trick now is making it happen, getting it done. And that’s a new task for government.”

tappan-zee-from-here

Three years ago this month Trump said he could fix the aging Tappan Zee Bridge “for peanuts”, and “The $4 billion will end up turning out to be $10 billion, and the state will never be able to afford it.”

His words came days after then-Thruway Authority Executive Director Thomas Madison closed a deal with the U.S. Department of Transportation for an historic $1.6 billion Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan for the new bridge.

Nearly $700 million more than anticipated and the largest low-interest (3.89 percent) loan in TIFIA history, it was a major coup for the bridge project. Did Trump know Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC (TZC) was also nearing the end of its first year on the 62-month assignment?

I’m sure President-elect Trump has since changed his mind about the bridge project, which reached another milestone this week. I wonder if he will be awed by it as I was and hope he continues to support New York State’s infrastructure initiatives.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2016

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