Replacing the old Tappan Zee Bridge, the new 3.1-mile, $3.98bn Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge crosses the Hudson River between Rockland and Westchester counties in New York state.
One of the largest single transportation design-build contracts in the United States, the state-of-the-art twin-span structure crosses one of the Hudson’s widest parts and is the longest bridge in New York State history. Its scale alone required complex design and construction techniques.
Designers selected structure types with a proven service life and which minimized foundation demands. The approach structures’ design maximized span lengths using long-span steel girders, resulting in fewer foundations. To limit the number of piles, the design used unprecedented pile capacities and 1,100 large-diameter pipe piles designed to also accommodate potential future rail service.
The approach span design is based on 5-span, modular continuous units. The steel grillage on each roadway deck includes five main girders and four substringers to minimise foundation loads. Seismic isolation is achieved with triple friction-pendulum bearing systems.
The concrete deck includes 6,806 full-depth precast panels; deck service life is assured with crack control, galvanized rebar, and an overlay system of waterproofing membrane and waterproofing/wearing asphalt course.
To expedite construction and limit in-water construction, the design-builder developed innovative pre-casting techniques to construct pile caps, pier caps, bridge decks, a shared-use path and earth-retaining structures.
Modular construction techniques created large sections of the roadway and superstructure on land. The 1,929-ton I Lift NY super crane lifted pre-assembled girder sections, up to 410 feet, into place which improved project safety, shortened construction and reduced project costs. Further, the eastern approach span construction used incremental launching to minimise conflicts with Metro-North Railroad operations.
To achieve the 100-year service life, the team used specific concrete mix designs, galvanised reinforcing steel; painted, weathering steel for the superstructure; specific coatings and overlay for the deck; and piles designed for corrosion and with pile plugs that carry the entire load from pile caps into pipe piles.
The new bridge reduces congestion for motorists with eight general traffic lanes, emergency shoulders and a dedicated bus lane. It is designed to accommodate possible future commuter rail and features a state-of-the-art traffic monitoring system.
The westbound span will also feature a shared-use bike and pedestrian path, with overlooks that reflect the Lower Hudson Valley’s culture and history. Roadway lighting uses dark-sky compliant LED fixtures to reduce light pollution. The highly efficient system uses an estimated 75 percent less energy compared to traditional lighting technology.
The team worked diligently to reduce the project’s environmental impacts. Extensive measures and strict environmental performance commitments were included to protect the Hudson River estuary and endangered peregrine falcons, Indiana bats and Atlantic sturgeon. In total, the project involved more than 1,400 companies, created thousands of jobs, and used 220 million pounds of U.S. steel.
The new bridge serves as the national model for large-scale projects on multiple levels, from the procurement process through to design and construction. It will improve traffic flow and contribute to the area’s economy.
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New York State Thruway Authority
Tappan Zee Constructors LLC