by Rick Pezzullo
Rockland-bound motorists will soon be the first to experience the new Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.
Current Governor Andrew Cuomo announced last week that the westbound lanes of the 3.1-mile, state-of-the-art twin span will be open to traffic on Friday, August 25 as vehicles will be diverted from the Tappan Zee Bridge. The new $3.98 billion bridge will be fully open in mid-2018.
Once finished, the bridge, which will be the largest ever built in New York State, will have four lanes for traffic in each direction, along with breakdown/emergency lanes. The westbound side will also feature a 12-foot-wide shared-use bicycle and pedestrian path, which will include six overlooks.
Two of the four tall tower cranes that have been in use during construction have been dismantled and removed following the installation of a maintenance elevator and tower rooftops. The other two cranes are being utilized on the eastbound side. As of July 21, more than 70 of the bridge’s 96 stay cables have been installed by Tappan Zee Constructors.
The bridge is being designed so that major maintenance will not be necessary for at least 100 years. Tappan Zee Constructors is also constructing two buildings in Tarrytown: the Thruway Authority’s new maintenance facility and a new State Police facility. The buildings will provide faster bridge access for State Police and Thruway personnel responsible for maintenance, operations and security. These access points will also allow emergency crews to quickly respond to vehicle breakdowns on the new bridge.
Construction operations on the new bridge began in late 2013. The existing bridge opened in 1955 and handles about 140,000 vehicles daily, well above what it was equipped to support.
Cuomo has ordered tolls on the bridge to not increase until at least 2020 and has called on the New York Thruway Authority to establish a resident discount program for drivers living in Westchester and Rockland counties.