Did you ever wonder why the Tappan Zee Bridge was built at the Hudson River’s widest point? To be as close to New York City as possible, without being within 25 miles of the Statue of Liberty. All bridges and tunnels within 25 miles of Liberty are under the jurisdiction of the Port Authority. Tolls for the Tappan Zee Bridge, 25.2 miles from Liberty, go to the New York State Thruway Authority.
As commuters moved to the suburbs, the Tappan Zee (carrying I-87 and I-287) began to carry far more traffic than its specs had allowed for. Besides that, the bridge is now a decade past its expiration date. Due to metal shortages during the Korean War, the bridge was only designed to last fifty years. Completion of the new bridge is scheduled for 2018.
This looks remarkably like the design for the new Kosciuszko Bridge, in Brooklyn. I do hope the new name isn’t “the New NY Bridge” (as the official New York State site calls it), because that would be a stupid stupid name.
Last week I visited Tarrytown, where there’s a viewing platform north of the old and new bridges – far enough away to be safe, but unfortunately too far to get the sort of looming photos that I like for massive projects such as bridges. The photo below shows the towers that will hold the cable stays. The supports for the roadway are in place on the eastern end (outside the photo, to the left).
This view posted by New York State shows the roadway extending from the western end.
- On the choice of location for the bridge, see this NPR interview.
- Years ago I read Henry Petroski’s Engineers of Dreams: Great Bridge Builders and the Spanning of America, 1995. He doesn’t mention the Tappan Zee or Kosciusko Bridges. Still, I’ve got it on my must-read-again shelf: fascinating stories. I’m ambivalent about reading his latest, The Road Taken: The History and Future of America’s Infrastructure, only because I suspect from this review that Petroski assumes government must necessarily fund infrastructure. Someone read it and report back to me, please (email@example.com).
- This brief comment by Henry Petroski explains why the Tappan Zee couldn’t be expected to last for centuries. It refers to an article by him that I can’t read, not being a subscriber to American Scientist.
- Official sites for the bridge construction: HDR (the designer) and NY State (with photos of progress).
- Turning north on the viewing platform, you see the lighthouse at Tarrytown, which plays a prominent role in the Jason Crane trilogy by Richard Gleaves – the only horror novels that I like! Read my op-ed on the Harry Potter series and you can extrapolate why.
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