Tappan Zee Constructors recommended to build new Tappan Zee Bridge

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Tappan Zee Bridge Presentation: The state Thruway Authority on Dec. 5, 2012 released three designs to build a new Tappan Zee Bridge. The $3.1 billion bid from Tappan Zee Constructors has apparently won the state’s recommendation. Video by WGRZ/wgrz.com

Tappan Zee Constructors has won the state’s advisory committee recommendation to build the new Tappan Zee Bridge for $3.1 billion, a source close to the selection process told The Journal News on Wednesday.

The consortium, which includes the company that built the existing 3-mile Tappan Zee 57 years ago, offered the least expensive bridge plan among the three teams competing for one of the largest public works projects in the country.

The suggested design for the Tappan Zee replacement, a cable-stayed bridge, has oddly angled towers on each span, a feature so unique it’s never been used in the United States, a state official said. He added that he knows of only one bridge — in Russia — with a similar element.

The twin-span bridge would also include a concrete deck on top of steel girders. Like the other two options, it would be strong enough to carry trains in the future. In addition, it would have deck connections in four places that can be used to turn traffic around in emergencies.

The crossing would have 35 piers in the river and be made up of 350-foot long spans to create the road deck. Those spans would be six times longer than the current ones. The proposal also calls for less dredging during construction than the state initially said would be required.

The Thruway Authority on Wednesday released the three proposals for the new bridge, but did not identify each team’s proposal, citing federal rules.

“To get a bridge to this point in a year was really a fantastic accomplishment,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a presentation at the Capitol.

Officials also announced that the state’s 38-member review panel had chosen the $3.1 billion bid because “they determined it was the best value,” said Brian Conybeare, a special adviser on the project.

The three proposals pegged the replacement cost between $3.1 billion and $4 billion, all much less than the initial construction price tag of $5.2 billion. Still, the proposal prices are preliminary estimates and don’t include another $600 to $800 million for expenses such as financing and management, state officials said.

American Bridge Co., which built the Tappan Zee, and Fluor Enterprises are members of the recommended Tappan Zee Constructors team. Those two firms are also involved in the $6.4 billion reconstruction of the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge. A joint venture involving Kiewit Infrastructure and Skanska USA and a partnership of Bechtel Infrastructure and Tutor Perini also submitted proposals.

The construction time for each proposal was more than five years. Work is expected to begin next year.

Though the state’s panel has selected Tappan Zee Constructors, the Thruway Authority board makes the final decision. The board is set to vote for a winning team on Dec. 17. Until then, officials said the public can weigh in on the proposals on the bridge project’s website: http://www.newnybridge.com.

The design review team’s recommendations will be a major factor in the final decision, said Thomas Madison, the Thruway Authority’s executive director.

The contract award will have a ripple effect for homeowners in Rockland and Westchester.

A group of six neighbors in South Nyack are waiting to learn if they’ll remain in their homes during construction or they’ll be bought out, as most of them want. The state originally planned to take the homes but reversed that decision in May. The homeowners have asked the state to reconsider.

Homeowners said state officials have told them the contract award would allow the state to finally make a decision.

“It would be good to finally come to some kind of closure because everything has been up in the air for the longest time,” said John Cameron, who has lived in his South Broadway home with his wife, Hope Elliott Cameron, for the past six years.

A state official told Cameron and his neighbors they have reason to be “optimistic,” which he believes means the state will ask the winning bidder to buy the homes, he said.

Not everyone was satisfied with Wednesday’s developments, though.

Veronica Vanterpool, executive director of Tri-State Transportation Campaign, charged that the state’s preview of the proposals was incomplete. Her group has pushed for the plan to include mass transit along the Interstate 287 corridor.

“The proposals are still unclear about what mass transit ready means,” Vanterpool said in an email to The Journal News. “We look forward to an announcement of the TZB transit task force so these details can be hammered out. The proposals came in significantly below the projected $5.2 billion price tag, creating a greater opportunity to incorporate low-cost, bus rapid transit improvements into the project.”

Riverkeeper, the Hudson River’s leading advocacy group, was also not eager to endorse any of the proposals. Riverkeeper has criticized the state’s plan for not adequately addressing how the project could harm marine life.

“Riverkeeper is not surprised that the state has identified a reduced dredging option,” president Paul Gallay said. “We and the rest of the public need more information as to how this will affect the project’s overall environmental impacts, and we will seek to have those discussions with the state as soon as possible.”

Al Samuels, president of the Rockland Bussiness Association, said he agreed with the selection committee’s recommendation, which he said “makes the most sense.”

Plans for the new bridge have moved swiftly since last year, when the Obama Administration named it one of 14 top priority infrastructure projects across the country. In September, the Federal Highway Administration gave final approval to the project’s environmental study, allowing the replacement plan to proceed

It remains unclear, however, whether the federal government will give the state a low-interest loan. In its loan application, the state had said a new bridge could cost up to $5.9 billion. Without a significant loan, state officials warned of soaring tolls. Officials had said the current $5 cash toll could rise to $14.

Rockland Legislature Chairwoman Harriet Cornell said Wednesday she wants to know what a smaller price tag means for those toll increases.

“I’ve talked for years about not putting the tolls on the backs of commuters,” Cornell said.


Some property information provided by CoStar, Loopnet, HGAR, Yelp, Rand Commercial Services and other public sources.