Archive for the ‘Tappan Zee Constructors’ Tag

Two Days Later: is the TZB Section Any Safer?

Remaining Tappan Zee Bridge still a safety concern/EarthCam® construction camera

While there remains a possibility of the old bridge east anchor span failing, in the event it does, it will fall within a safety zone that does not affect vessel traffic or the structural integrity of the new eastbound bridge.

So a few questions: which way would that section fall? Would it fall sideways to the south? Does last week’s discovery mean crews will expedite their dismantling process? How would the falling piece(s) affect the Westchester and Rockland shorelines?

These are some of the questions I asked Sunday night and was told yesterday there’s no further information at this time.

The eastbound span will open tonight, the second night of Rosh Hashanah and the solemn day of September 11. Perhaps more people will be on the road tonight returning home from dinners and services. Why not wait until Friday: it’s good for traffic volume, as project director Jamey Barbas, P.E., said during Sunday’s conference call.

Maybe tonight because the New York State gubernatorial primary is Thursday.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2018

Traffic will shift to New Eastbound Span Tuesday

“After careful evaluation, Tappan Zee Constructors has determined that the old Tappan Zee Bridge east anchor span is damaged but currently stable with certain key components highly stressed,” TZC President and Project Executive Terry Towle said tonight in a statement.

This will not endanger either the westbound span or the eastbound span above, photo courtesy of the New York State Thruway Authority, which had been ready to open since Friday.

“While there remains a possibility of the old bridge east anchor span (steel truss) failing,” Towle said, if it does, then “it will fall within a safety zone that does not affect vessel traffic or the structural integrity of the new eastbound bridge.”

Its assessment completed, TZC recommended shifting traffic to the eastbound span, a process scheduled for Tuesday night if weather permits. Rain comes tomorrow, Tuesday brings thunderstorms, and tropical storm-turned-hurricane Florence will hit the east coast after the span opens.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2018

Safety First: Last-Minute Call to delay Lane Switch due to a Fault in TZB Joint

Remaining Tappan Zee Bridge is now safety concern/EarthCam® construction camera

Tappan Zee Constructors, Inc. (LLC) crews were ready to switch four lanes of traffic to the new eastbound span last night when TZC President and Project Executive Terry Towle, safety his first priority, changed his mind.

“It looks like one of the members of the old Tappan Zee Bridge structure slipped in one of the joints,” Towle said during a conference call with media this afternoon. “We’re investigating what happened with the engineers.”

He said crews coming off shift heard a noise. “They saw a joint that looked like it slipped and took some photos. Engineers investigated, and at 6:30, I thought it would be a problem and canceled the traffic shift at approximately 8 p.m.”

Once this issue arose, “it was a short window of time to make a decision.” The eastbound span’s opening (date) will be evaluated as “we want to be sure the old bridge — approximately 160 feet from the new bridge — is stabilized.”

“We certainly appreciate TZC being proactive and had crews in position to do the (traffic) shift,” Thruway Authority Executive Director Matthew J. Driscoll said. “At the end of the day, public safety trumps all and should trump politics. That is the Thruway’s number one charge and the governor’s as well.”

Here is what would have occurred last night (Shift 1) and in two weeks (Shift 2).

Despite assurances from structural engineers that there was no danger to either of the new bridge’s spans, Towle said, TZC is not taking any risks. “(My) personal preference is not do anything until there are assurances from multiple engineers that the truss is stabilized,” he reiterated.

Part of that evaluation includes deciding if TZC will now expedite removal of the old bridge or if it will adhere to its original schedule, which was to lower the Westchester anchor span by October and the Rockland anchor span by December, then continue with underwater work going into next year.

The old bridge’s most recent inspection occurred when its disassembly plan was made more than one year ago. “Crews taking down the bridge are very careful and look at the day’s work ahead of time,” Towle assured.

However, “there’s a slight possibility that the joints could fail, and if they fail, then the bridge could potentially fall, and the theoretical possibility is that it could fall toward the eastbound span,” he said. “Engineers have run analyses and are looking at those various options. It’s too soon to answer that.”

When asked who chose the date to open the second, Project Director Jamey Barbas, P.E., said, “TZC advised me and the governor’s office a while (three weeks, one month) ago that the bridge would be open to traffic on September 8.” Friday is good for traffic volume, Barbas said, and it was after Labor Day so as not to inconvenience motorists.

During the call, Towle admitted, “Bottom line is we worked hard to get the eastbound span done, and the fact that it’s empty is embarrassing.”

While the eastbound span didn’t open as planned, the design-build consortium’s president made a last-minute call to put safety first. Take Zero Chances.

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

%d bloggers like this: