At Last, The Bridge Came Falling Down
By Barrett Seaman
It could have been the Fourth of July—except that it was bathed in sunlight on a frigid mid-January day. Cars pulled off roads near vantage points and people streamed from their homes and offices from Sleepy Hollow to Irvington in anticipation of a very brief but spectacular display of fireworks as the entire eastern trestle of the old Tappan Zee Bridge was blown from its moorings and plunged into the icy Hudson River.
Traffic on the new Mario M. Cuomo Bridge was blocked off beginning at 10:00am but it was not until almost 11:00 when the twin detonations shattered the morning air. Tappan Zee Constructors both builder and destroyer of bridges, had advised that the explosions would sound like July 4th fireworks and to keep pets inside. The fireballs and burst of gray smoke appeared a few long seconds before the sound waves rattled windows onshore. Then cheers and applause rose from the shoreline redoubts where spectators had gathered.
Prime seats were to be found at the bottom of Tappan Landing Road, at The Quay next door, the rear parking lot of the office building at 303 South Broadway and at the base of Van Wart Street from which hundreds of viewers snaked down the north entry of the Riverwalk, which had an unobstructed sightline to the bridge.
One of the most popular viewing spots was at Lyndhurst, where the estate’s executive director Howard Zar had invited a veritable Who’s Who of the Rivertowns to witness the spectacle from the lofty castle tower. Price tag: $100, but the Mimosas were on the house. A mile downstream in Irvington, crowds braved the west winds to witness the explosions from Mathiessen Park. As late as noon, cars were still exiting these venues onto Broadway. The traffic on I-87/287 resumed its normal pace, and there was little sign of the delays feared by local police.
The 6,500-ton span that hit the water did not just sink to the bottom. TZ Constructors had pre-positioned salvage equipment, including chains along the riverbed that will lift the structure up and onto barges. Ultimately, it will be dropped into the ocean off Long Island where it will serve as an artificial reef.