This story was originally published in Concrete Construction.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo addressing crowd at ribbon-cutting ceremony for bridge named after his father, former governor Mario Cuomo.
Janie Rosman New York Governor Andrew Cuomo addressing crowd at ribbon-cutting ceremony for bridge named after his father, former governor Mario Cuomo.

Four years after its first foundational steel piles were driven into the river bed, one span of the new Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge connecting Westchester and Rockland counties in New York State opened to westbound traffic. For the next few months westbound motorists will use the new span, and eastbound motorists will use the old Tappan Zee Bridge.

Speaking at the August 24th ribbon-cutting ceremony for the twin span, cable-stayed bridge named after his father, Governor Andrew Cuomo acknowledged officials who helped secure funding for the $3.9 billion project.

“This bridge actually will cost about $1 billion less than our estimate and it was built in about five years,” Cuomo said. “which is the blink of an eye for development today. It really is an extraordinary accomplishment.”

Noting that federal infrastructure funding has not materialized, he said, “But New York is not waiting for the federal government. We're not waiting for any state to show us what to do because in New York we lead the way.”

Crews barricaded one New York State Thruway westbound on-ramp the following night (August 25) so the roadway could be restriped for traffic. Saturday morning’s wee hours saw the first car — a Honda Civic driven by 24-year-old Chelsea Christonikos of Rockland County — cross the new span in its only-open right lane as drivers behind her cheered and honked their horns.

Christonikos, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority police officer, was on her way home after work. “It’s been years in the making, and I’m pretty excited to be the first person to go over the new bridge,” she said.

“Opening a new bridge is always a momentous achievement and a significant milestone on any project, but especially on one of this size and scale,” noted Jamey Barbas, project director for bridge owner the New York State Thruway Authority. “Putting traffic on the first span is a culmination of many striving toward the same goal.”

Eastbound traffic will shift to the new span on October 6, separated from westbound traffic by a concrete barrier so the ends of the old bridge can be demolished. Because the Tappan Zee is connected to the landings, crews must first demolish them before completing the new bridge’s eastbound span, which will use the same landings. When the new second span opens and eastbound traffic moves to that span in 2018, crews will begin building the bicycle and walking path and its six viewing areas.

Two concrete batch plants, one operational, and the other a backup, remain onsite. Most of the concrete work on the bridge is done save for the landings and the walking/bicycle path. Concrete is also used to fill in spaces between the road deck panels, and there may be some needed for the piers and barriers on the eastbound span.

For a detailed review of the construction of the bridge, click here.

To read more stories like this, visit Concrete Construction.