After four years of construction and nearly $4 billion drawn from the federal government, bonds, and corporate settlements following the financial crisis, the first span of the new Tappan Zee replacement, the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge will open to Westbound traffic Friday night.
On Friday night, workers will re-stripe the lanes on the new bridge’s landings. At 9 p.m., state police will begin shutting down lanes on the old bridge until only one lane is open. Sometime after midnight, the first cars are expected to drive over the new Tappan Zee bridge. Eastbound traffic from Rockland County into Westchester will continue along the existing Tappan Zee until construction of the new bridge’s second span is completed — expected sometime before the end of 2018 — when the old bridge will be officially decommissioned and dismantled.
Cuomo was quick to point out at the opening ceremony that the project came in not only on time, but about $1 billion under-budget, likely due in no small part the state putting the project out to bid not only for its construction, but its design phase as well.
Related: Views From the New Tappan Zee Bridge
The end result, when finished, will be two separate spans, each moving traffic in either direction over four lanes. Much to the delight of the bridge’s estimated 140,000 commuters, each span is 96” feet wide, boasting wider lanes than its predecessor and bicycle/pedestrian lanes, as well as a legitimate shoulder to prevent congestion due to breakdowns on the bridge. Tolls are currently fixed at $5 for eastbound traffic (less for E-Z Pass users) until at least 2020.
Cuomo praised the enormous construction effort, which he likened to massive construction projects of yesteryear like the tunneling of the New York subway system and the erection of the George Washington Bridge. “We built the longest bridges, the most sophisticated tunnels, but we lost that daring we had in 1931,” he said. “Today says the New York blood still runs in our veins.”
He added, “What the New Tappan Zee says is we can still do great things.”
Cuomo commemorated the opening by driving the length of the bridge in a daffodil yellow 1955 Cheverolet Corvette, accompanied by 96-year-old Sleepy Hollow resident Armando “Chick” Galella. Galella, a veteran and Pearl Harbor survivor, crossed the original Tappen Zee Bridge in precisely the same model car when it opened in 1955.