Tappan Zee Bridge

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Tappan Zee Bridge
TappanZeeBridgeFromBelow.JPG
Official name The Governor Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge
Carries 7 lanes (3 northbound, 3 southbound, 1 reversible) of I-87 / I-287 / Thruway
Crosses Hudson River and Hudson Line
Locale Connecting South Nyack, Rockland County, New York and Tarrytown, Westchester County, New York in the Lower Hudson Valley
Maintained by New York State Thruway Authority
Design Cantilever bridge
Total length 16,013 feet (4,881 m)
Width 90 feet (27 m)
Longest span 1,212 feet (369 m)
Clearance below 138 feet (42 m)
Opened December 15, 1955; 58 years ago (December 15, 1955)
Toll

(eastbound/southbound only)
$5.00 (cash)[1]

$4.75 (E-ZPass)[2]
Daily traffic 134,947 (2010)[3]
Closed 2017 (planned)
Coordinates 41°04′12″N 73°53′28″W / 41.07000°N 73.89111°W / 41.07000; -73.89111Coordinates: 41°04′12″N 73°53′28″W / 41.07000°N 73.89111°W / 41.07000; -73.89111

The Governor Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge, usually referred to as the Tappan Zee Bridge, is a cantilever bridge in the U.S. state of New York, crossing the Hudson River at one of its widest points; the Tappan Zee is named for an American Indian tribe from the area called "Tappan"; and zee being the Dutch word for "sea".[4] As an integral conduit within the New York Metropolitan Area, it connects South Nyack in Rockland County with Tarrytown in Westchester County in the Lower Hudson Valley. Federal and state authorities are currently planning a Tappan Zee replacement bridge that will cost at least $4 billion.[5]

It is the longest bridge in the State of New York.[6] The total length of the bridge and approaches is 16,013 feet (4,881 m). The cantilever span is 1,212 feet (369 m) providing a maximum clearance of 138 feet (42 m) over the water. The bridge is about 25 miles (40 km) north of Midtown Manhattan, the skyline of which can be seen from the bridge on a clear day.

The bridge is part of the New York State Thruway mainline and is also designated as Interstate 87 and Interstate 287. The span carries seven lanes of motor traffic. The center lane can be switched between eastbound and westbound traffic depending on the prevalent commuter direction; on weekdays, the center lane is eastbound in the morning and westbound in the evening. The switch is accomplished via a movable center barrier which is moved by a pair of barrier transfer machines. Even with the switchable lane, traffic is frequently very slow. The bridge is one of the primary crossings of the Hudson River north of New York City; it carries much of the traffic between southern New England and points west of the Hudson.

As of January 2014, each eastbound passenger car pays a toll of $5.00 cash, or $4.75 via E-ZPass ($3.00 if on the Commuter Plan (which charges a minimum of $60 a month, thus requiring a minimum of 13 crossings to attain an average cost below the normal E-Z pass rate)).[7] Westbound crossings are toll-free.[8]

History[edit]

Tappan Zee Bridge toll plaza, 1973

With the increasing demands for commuter travel taxing the existing bridges and tunnels, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey had plans in 1950 to construct a bridge across the Hudson near Dobbs Ferry, New York. The proposal was overridden by New York State Governor Thomas E. Dewey, who wanted to construct a bridge to connect the New York State Thruway across Westchester to the New England Thruway. The Port Authority promised its bondholders that it would not allow any other entity to construct a river crossing within its jurisdiction, which reached to a point one mile (1.6 km) south of Nyack on the western shore of the Hudson River and across to Tarrytown[9] on the eastern shore.

A May 10, 1950, editorial in The New York Times suggested that a site in southern Dobbs Ferry or northern Hastings-on-Hudson, where the Hudson narrowed considerably from its three-mile (5 km) width at Tappan Zee, would be a more appropriate site, and suggested that Governor Dewey work with his counterpart, Governor of New Jersey Alfred E. Driscoll, to craft a compromise that would offer Thruway customers a discounted bridge fare at a more southerly crossing.[10] Two days later, Governor Dewey announced that the Port Authority had dropped its plans to construct a bridge of its own. The location would be close to the Tarrytown-Nyack line just outside the Port Authority's jurisdiction. Dewey stated that World War II military technology would be used in the bridge's construction.[11]

The site of the bridge, at the Hudson River's second-widest point, added to construction costs. The site was chosen to be as close as possible to New York City, while staying out of the 25-mile (40 km) range of the Port Authority's influence, thus ensuring that revenue from collected tolls would go to the newly created New York State Thruway Authority, and not the Port Authority.[12][13][14] A unique aspect about the design of the bridge is that the main span is supported by eight hollow concrete caissons. Their buoyancy supports some of the loads and helped to reduce costs.[15]

Construction started in March 1952 and the bridge opened for traffic on December 15, 1955, along with a 27-mile (43 km) long section of the New York State Thruway from Suffern to Yonkers.[16][17] New York State Governor W. Averell Harriman signed a bill on February 28, 1956, to name the structure officially the Tappan Zee Bridge.[18] In 1994, the name of Malcolm Wilson was added to the bridge's name upon the 20th anniversary of his leaving the governor's office in December 1974, though it is almost never used when the bridge is spoken about colloquially.[19]

The bridge is expected to be decommissioned in 2016.[20]

Problems with infrastructure[edit]

In 2009, the Tappan Zee Bridge was featured on The History Channel "The Crumbling of America" showing the infrastructure crisis in the United States.[21] Many factors contribute to the precarious infrastructure of the bridge, which has been called "one of the most decrepit and potentially dangerous bridges" in the U.S.[22] Engineering assessments have determined that "everything from steel corrosion to earthquakes to maritime accidents could cause major, perhaps catastrophic, damage to the span," prompting one of the top aides in the New York state governor's office to refer to the Tappan Zee as the “hold-your-breath bridge.”[22] A 2009 state report noted that the bridge was not built with a plan that was "conducive to long-term durability” and that the Tappan Zee’s engineers designed it to be “nonredundant,” meaning that one "critical fracture could make the bridge fail completely because its supports couldn’t transfer the structure’s load to other supports."[23]

Replacement bridge[edit]

The superstructure was constructed during a period of material shortages during the Korean War.

The deteriorating structure, which bears far more traffic than it was designed for, led to plans to repair the bridge or replace it with a tunnel or a new bridge.[24][25] These plans and discussions were whittled down to six options and underwent environmental review. Part of the justification for the replacement of the bridge has been that it was constructed during material shortages during the Korean War and designed to last only 50 years.[26] The collapse of the I-35W Mississippi River bridge in Minnesota on August 1, 2007, has renewed concerns about the bridge's structural integrity.[27]

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is studying the feasibility of either including a rail line across the new bridge or building the new bridge so a new rail line can be installed at a future date. The rail line, if built, will be located on a lower level, beneath the roadway. Commuter rail service west of the bridge in Rockland County is limited, and the MTA is studying expansion possibilities in Rockland County that would use the new bridge to connect with Metro-North's Hudson Line on the east side of the bridge along the Hudson River for direct service into Manhattan.

On September 26, 2008, New York state officials announced their plan to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge with a new bridge that includes commuter-train tracks and lanes for high-speed buses. The bridge would cost $6.4 billion, while adding bus lanes from Suffern to Port Chester would cost $2.9 billion. Adding a rail line from the Suffern Metro-North station and across the bridge, connecting with Metro-North’s Hudson Line south of Tarrytown, would cost another $6.7 billion. The plan is being reviewed for environmental impact.[28]

Meetings by the New York State Department of Transportation with local communities were held in December 2009. They revised the replacement cost including road, rail, and bus to be $16 billion.[29]

After years of public comment in favor of including public transportation on the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement, and after all previous replacement alternatives studied by the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) as part of the required environmental review included transit, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Federal Highway Administration in October 2011 abruptly reversed course. The new project they advanced lacked transit and transit advocates assert that, if built as proposed, the replacement bridge would lock in new auto- and truck-only infrastructure for years. Transit advocates have complained that NYSDOT has consistently overestimated the cost of transit in the replacement, in some cases claiming that the cost could be $10–15 billion for transit alone. Transit supporters have argued that a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system incorporated into the bridge can cost less than the state's projected range of $900 million to $2.5 billion. By comparison, the bridge replacement project without transit is estimated to cost $5.2 billion.[30]

In 2013, the New York State Thruway Authority began building the new New Tappan Zee Bridge, which will be a double-span bridge (four lanes per span in opposite directions). The new bridge is scheduled for completion in 2018.[31]

Suicide prevention[edit]

The Tappan Zee Bridge as seen from a train on the eastern shore of the Hudson River.

From 1998 to 2008, more than 25 people committed suicide on the Tappan Zee Bridge, according to the New York State Thruway Authority.[32] On August 31, 2007, NYSTA officials added four phones – two each on the Rockland and Westchester sides – that connect callers via the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline crisis hotline to counselors at LifeNet or Covenant House.[33] Signs reading "Life is Worth Living" and "When it seems like there is no hope, there is help" have been placed on the bridge.[34] Suicide fencing and traffic cameras have also been installed along the bridge, and bridge staff have been trained in suicide prevention.[35] An October 14, 2012, Newsday article reports, the Tappan Zee Bridge has been referred to as the Golden Gate Bridge of the East, and "The new Tappan Zee, which is in the works, will include fencing designed to thwart jumpers."[36]

The most famous and notorious suicides that happened on the Tappan Zee Bridge are those of Scott Douglas on January 1, 1994, after murdering his wife, Anne Scripps; and on September 24, 2009, of his stepdaughter Annie Morrell Petrillo, who jumped from that same bridge to her death.[37] Two US military service members jumped from the bridge to their deaths in 2010.[38]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Fixed Barrier Cash Toll Rates". New York State Thruway Authority. Retrieved 2010-02-27. 
  2. ^ "E-ZPass Tolls at Fixed Toll Barriers". New York State Thruway Authority. Retrieved 2010-02-27. 
  3. ^ "2010 Traffic Data Report for New York State" (PDF). New York State Department of Transportation. Appendix C. Retrieved 2010-02-27. 
  4. ^ Melvin, Tessa (August 21, 1994). "If You're Thinking of Living In/Tarrytown; Rich History, Picturesque River Setting". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-12-30. "The Dutch called this point, the river's widest, the Tappan Zee -- Tappan probably for a group of Indians and Zee meaning "sea" in Dutch." 
  5. ^ Khurram Saeed and Theresa Juva-Brown (2012-12-17). "It's official: State picks builder for new Tappan Zee Bridge". Copyright © 2012 www.lohud.com. All rights reserved. Retrieved 2012-12-19. 
  6. ^ "Tappan Zee Bridge 1955: Best, Longest, Safest". nyacknewsandviews. Retrieved 5 February 2013. 
  7. ^ "E-ZPass Commuter Plan". Retrieved 2010-12-24. "If fewer than 20 trips are taken per month, you will be charged $3.00 for each trip not taken." 
  8. ^ "Tappan Zee Bridge". NYC Roads. Retrieved July 28, 2014. 
  9. ^ Ingraham, Joseph C. (May 7, 1950). "Port Bridge Plan Blocked by Dewey; Peril to Thruway Is Seen in Project at Dobbs Ferry for Link with Jersey Roads". The New York Times. p. 1. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  10. ^ "That Thruway Bridge". The New York Times. May 10, 1952. p. 1. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  11. ^ Ingraham, Joseph C. (May 12, 1950). "Port Body Gives In on Thruway Span; Accedes to Dewey's Orders and Will Let the Bridge Be Built Wherever His Engineers Say". The New York Times. p. 29. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  12. ^ Brenner, Elsa (April 30, 2000). "Future of Bridge Stirs Bicounty Cooperation". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-18. "The site was selected to be as close to New York City as possible while escaping the 25-mile jurisdiction of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which apparently opposed the bridge because it would compete with the authority's own crossings." 
  13. ^ Chen, David W. (January 30, 2000). "Ideas & Trends: A Bridge Too Long; The Cost of Urban Sprawl: Unplanned Obsolescence". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-18. "And because it is so long -- built at the Hudson's widest point to escape the 25-mile jurisdiction of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey -- it is unusually expensive to maintain, repair and, if necessary, replace." 
  14. ^ Kestenbaum, David (August 19, 2011). "A Big Bridge In The Wrong Place". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2011-08-19. 
  15. ^ Guide to Civil Engineering Projects In and Around New York City (2nd ed.). Metropolitan Section, American Society of Civil Engineers. 2009. p. 41. 
  16. ^ "Thruway Fact Book" (PDF). New York State Thruway Authority. Retrieved 2010-02-27. 
  17. ^ "The Thruway Bridge Opens". The New York Times. December 15, 1955. p. 36. Retrieved 2010-02-27. 
  18. ^ "Tappan Zee Is Official; Governor Signs Bill Naming the Thruway Bridge". New York Times. February 29, 1956. p. 22. Retrieved 2010-02-27. 
  19. ^ "Mario Just Might Have Been Easier". The New York Times. January 13, 1994. Retrieved 2010-02-27. 
  20. ^ "Old Tappan Zee Bridge To Be Decommissioned In 2016". CBS News New York. Retrieved 5 February 2013. 
  21. ^ "Legislator Day to Appear on History Channel Modern Marvel Series" (PDF) (Press release). June 17, 2009. Retrieved 2010-02-27. 
  22. ^ a b "Falling Down". New York Magazine. January 27, 2013. Retrieved 2013-02-03. 
  23. ^ "The Tappan Zee Is Falling Down". City Journal 21 (2). 2011. Retrieved 2013-02-03. 
  24. ^ http://web.archive.org/web/20060725173254/[dead link]
  25. ^ http://www.tzbsite.com/tzblibrary/stage1/tzbrecommendedreviewalt.pdf[dead link]
  26. ^ McGeehan, Patrick (January 17, 2006). "A Bridge That Has Nowhere Left to Go". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-02-27. 
  27. ^ "Tappan Zee Bridge has received "poor" ratings". Poughkeepsie Journal. Gannett News Service. August 3, 2007. Retrieved 2008-08-09. 
  28. ^ Neuman, William (September 26, 2008). "State to Replace, Not Rebuild, Tappan Zee Bridge". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-02-27. 
  29. ^ Mayberg, Nathan (December 11, 2009). "$16 billion Tappan Zee replacement will touch Port Chester, Rye Brook". Port Chester Westmore News. Retrieved 2010-02-27. 
  30. ^ Higashide, Steven (November 4, 2011). "Fact Check: Tappan Zee Transit Doesn’t Need to Cost "$10 to $15 Billion"". Tri-State Transportation Campaign. Retrieved 2011-12-14. 
  31. ^ Official New Tappan Zee Bridge Project Site
  32. ^ "Authorities Put Anti-Suicide Phones on TZ Bridge". WCBS-TV. August 29, 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-12-22. Retrieved 2008-02-13. 
  33. ^ Shamburger, Merideth. "Naked Couple Who Jumped From T Z Bridge Identified". The Rivertowns Daily Voice. Retrieved 26 July 2012. 
  34. ^ Lombardi, Kate Stone (May 11, 2008). "Struggling to Prevent Suicides at Tappan Zee". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-02-27. 
  35. ^ Merideth Shamburger, Redmond Zmudzien. "Family Members Tried to Stop Bridge Jumper". The Tarrytown Daily Voice. Retrieved 5 July 2012. 
  36. ^ TIMOTHY O'CONNOR (14 October 2012). "High anxiety: Trooper fights fear to save would-be Tappan Zee jumpers". Newsday. Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  37. ^ Berger, Joseph; Schweber, Nate (September 27, 2009). "As Body Is Found, Efforts to Make Sense of a Loss". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-12-23. 
  38. ^ Ryser, Rob; Liebson, Richard; Howard, Brian (June 10, 2010). "Army pvt. bound for Hood jumps from NY bridge". The Journal News (Westchester, NY). Retrieved 2010-06-10. 

External links[edit]