AASHTO Journal, 24 August 2012
New York State officials have taken steps this week to make the construction of a new Tappan Zee Bridge a reality.
New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo penned a letter Monday to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to get the ball rolling for federal funding for a new Tappan Zee Bridge after the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council unanimously voted to add the project to the regional Transportation Improvement Program.
“Today we are one step closer to building a new, safer bridge that will revitalize the Hudson Valley by creating thousands of jobs,” said Gov. Cuomo in a statement. “After over a decade of delay caused by political dysfunction, this letter demonstrates that we are making real progress towards constructing a stronger, transit-ready bridge that will reduce congestion and be safer for drivers for years to come.”
The letter signals a formal initiation of the state’s application for Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) funding, which it first requested funding from in April. The $2 billion application for TIFIA funds was rejected due to a lack of funding. While the current letter states Gov. Cuomo’s intent to apply for TIFIA funding, it does not state how much it would be seeking, only that Gov. Cuomo requests DOT’s “fullest consideration of the Tappan Zee replacement project for all available federal support.”
Cost to rehabilitate the existing bridge through the next 20 years is expected to be around $3-4 billion. About $750 million has already been spent in the last decade just to maintain the bridge. A new replacement bridge is projected to cost between $5 and $6 billion.
The original Tappan Zee Bridge opened in 1955 and has since been a major route on the area’s roadway network. The total bridge measures more than 16,000 feet, standing roughly 139 feet over the Hudson River, and was originally designed to carry about 100,000 vehicles per day. However, the bridge now carries about 138,000 vehicles over the Hudson each day, many of those vehicles being large trucks conducting intrastate and interstate business. The increased traffic has also caused congestion problems on the bridge, while there are no lanes or shoulders for emergency vehicles stuck in that congestion, and the accident rate on the bridge is double the average rate on the rest of the NYS Thruway.
Additional information on the Tappan Zee Bridge is available at bit.ly/tappanzee.