By Judy Rife
The first signs of construction of a new Tappan Zee Bridge are likely to become visible next month, when the design-build team begins making test borings in the Hudson River.
At the same time, the team, Tappan Zee Constructors, will start outfitting construction staging areas beneath the existing bridge and along the New York State Thruway on state-owned property.
By June, the team will be installing test pilings north of the old bridge, along the route of the new one, and by Aug. 1, it will be dredging the river bottom, a process limited to a three-month window every year to protect the spawning of two endangered species of sturgeon.
Completion planned in 2018
But from this modest beginning, Tappan Zee Constructors promises to open the north span of the new, two-span bridge in 2016 and move traffic to it in preparation for demolishing the old bridge. Construction of the south span will then be completed in 2018. The sequencing facilitates the new bridge's use of the same landings onshore as the old one, despite it being twice as wide.
Thomas Madison, the Thruway Authority's executive director, and Brian Conybeare, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's special project adviser, outlined the still-rough construction timetable for the public Monday in Tarrytown Monday and Tuesday in Nyack.
The men also introduced representatives of Tappan Zee Constructors, the consortium that won the coveted design-build contract with a bid that, at $3.1 billion, was almost $1 billion lower than those of its two competitors.
"Our team is ready," said Walter Reichert, vice president of Tappan Zee Constructors and the project manager, in describing the team's efforts during the past year to devise the best and most economical bridge possible.
He and four other representatives described themselves repeatedly as "excited" about this "once in a lifetime opportunity." The consortium is composed of Fluor Enterprises, Granite Construction Northeast, American Bridge and Traylor Brothers.
'Negligible' traffic disruption
Reichert said construction will begin on both three-mile long spans at the same time, starting in the middle of the river and working toward the shores. He predicted any disruption to traffic in the corridor would be "negligible," in part because materials and workers will be transported by boat.
Toward that end, Tappan Zee Constructors will utilize a mammoth floating crane with a 328-foot boom to install prefabricated sections of the new bridge — and dismantle the old one — from the river. Fluor and American Bridge used the crane, known as the "Left Coast Lifter," in their work on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. That crane is en route to New York now.
Tappan Zee Constuctors, the consortium that won the $3.1 billion contract to design and build the new Tappan Zee Bridge, will be seeking workers, materials and services during the next two months.
The consortium's new website, tappanzeeconstructors.com, provides details about how people and companies can apply for jobs and contracts as well as what kinds of support is being sought.
The consortium is also planning a series of opportunity fairs in Westchester and Rockland counties. Fairs for disadvantaged, minority, female-owned and small businesses will be held Feb. 14 and Feb. 15. Job fairs for individuals will be held March 6 and March 7 and business-to-business fairs, April 23 and April 24.
Times and places for the fairs have yet to be set, but will be posted on the website as soon as they are.