Update, Sept 8 at 12n: The planned overnight lane shift to the south span of the Mario M Cuomo Tappan Zee Bridge was postponed. “In continued disassembly of the old Tappan Zee Bridge last night, a potentially dangerous situation developed where a piece of the old bridge has become destabilized and could fall. Given its proximity to the new completed span, out of an abundance of caution, motorists will remain in the current traffic configuration until a thorough evaluation by Tappan Zee Constructors is complete. The second span is finished and ready to open to traffic as soon as the Thruway Authority is assured there is no risk to the new span,” said Matthew J. Driscoll, Executive Director of the NYS Thruway Authority.
Update, Sept 8 at 8:20a — “Although the new bridge is unaffected, Tappan Zee Constructors is evaluating a portion of the old bridge,” said a NYS Thruway spokesperson. “We will provide an update on the traffic switch once that evaluation is completed and until that time, motorists will remain in the current traffic configuration.”
by Dave Zornow
Nyack, Sept 7 — The southern span of the Mario Cuomo Bridge (the artist formerly known as the Tappan Zee Bridge) opens tonight. But, first, a celebration. Here are six things you need to know —- including today’s ceremonies, tonight’s lane and ramp closures, and which car will be first to cross the new span.
Eastbound (Westchester) Traffic moves to the new span: Beginning at around 8p tonight (Fri Sept 7), there will be multiple closures. At least one Westchester-bound lane will remain open except when State Police stop traffic temporarily. The South Broadway entrance ramp to I-287 will be closed from 8p-7a.
Looking ahead: sometime next month, westbound traffic into Rockland will move over to take the lane now used by Westchester bound traffic to allow crews to complete work on the Shared Use Pedestrian Bicycle Path on the northern span. The Thruway is evasive about when that work will be completed, only saying it will be completed sometime in 2019.
What’s this going to cost? Just like the Talking Heads once sang, “…same as it ever was.” That is, at least until 2020, when NYS Thruway loans for the New NY Bridge construction come due. During a press event on Tuesday, the governor didn’t say what the new tolls will be, but did make a valid point about current tolls for bridges crossings in the NY Metro area. Noting that even though the new bridge is over three miles, it costs only $4.75 to cross the river between Nyack and Tarrytown compared to the $12-15 it costs to cross the much shorter GWB. “Why is there a disparity among the bridges? There’s no rhyme or reason to the different tolls,” said Cuomo. “Different entities own different bridges. Over the years, the fare structures have just developed. We need to look at all of the bridges and come up with a comprehensive toll plan that is fair, makes sense, and doesn’t steer traffic one way or the other.” Current speculation suggests the revised Cuomo Bridge toll will be about $14 compared to the current $4.75 for EZ-Pass charge. That’s a steep jump…but then again, motorists are getting a three year “free ride” on the new bridge without any toll increase.
Which car will be first to cross the new span? The smart money is on a 1932 Packard Phaeton once owned by former NYS governor Franklin D Roosevelt. When the north span opened in August 2017, Cuomo made the first crossing in a 1955 Chevrolet Corvette, which is the same make and model that opened the original Tappan Zee Bridge in December, 1955. During Tuesday’s press event, Nyack News And Views asked Cuomo if he had a special car picked out for the first drive across the southern span. He replied, “FDR’s,” alluding to the car he removed from a New York State museum and had restored for ceremonies like today’s bridge opening. Cuomo, a serious car guy, once described FDR’s Packard as a “cream puff.” Hemmings.com described the Phaeton this way: “Purchased toward the end of Roosevelt’s second term as governor of the state for use as a staff car, the full classic one-of-three phaeton (body style 570) features Packard’s Twin Six V-12, dual side mounts, and leather interior. Rather than a winged goddess hood ornament, the 905 features a special New York governor’s fleet insignia.”
Dedicated To The Bridge He Loves: On Friday Sept 7, there’s a ceremony scheduled for early afternoon on the new span. The Nyack High School Marching Band will be there. So will Hillary Clinton, as well as every local elected official who managed to get their name on the invite list. Expect extended speeches on the new south span and motorist rubbernecking on the north span.
What’s next? Still to come is another lane shift in October. That’s also when the Hudson Links (formerly known as the LHTL “Lower Hudson Transit Link”) bus system will replace Rockland County’s Tappan Zee Express (the governor implied this might happen next month, but press aides couldn’t confirm that). Extensive work still remains to be done under the Zee to remove pilings from the original bridge. And a final lane realignment still needs to happen next spring (?) for the opening of the Shared Use Path on the north span.