Rendering courtesy of NYS Thruway Authority
Rendering courtesy of NYS Thruway Authority


It's official: The New York State Thruway Authority has chosen a $3.14-billion bid by Tappan Zee Constructors as the plan for the next version of the 3.1-mile-long, 57-year-old Tappan Zee bridge. The bid was the lowest submitted from all the competing teams.

In a statement announcing the winning team on Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, "After more than a decade of gridlock and millions of taxpayer dollars spent, we have ended the dysfunction of the past and have a new bridge proposal ready to break ground next year." He said the Thruway Authority's board selected the Tappan Zee Constructors' plan because it "offers New York toll-payers the biggest bang for their buck, with the best price, shortest construction time, minimal dredging, and [it] can accommodate mass transit in the future. This is a major milestone for a bridge project that was a metaphor for the dysfunction of government and is now a national model for progress.”

The winning design features two pairs of tapered H-shaped pylons to support the main span. At an estimated cost of $3.142 billion, it is expected to take about five years and three months to build and require 951,000 cu yd of dredging, according to the presentation.

Tappan Zee Constructors is a consortium that includes contractors Fluor Enterprises, Granite Construction Northeast, American Bridge Co. and Traylor Bros. Inc. The team also includes engineering firms HDR, Buckland & Taylor and URS.

It's a big win for the venture and for Fluor Corp., which called the megaproject the single-largest bridge project in New York’s history. Further, the project will be subject to the first application of the state's recently enacted design-build legislation, which is expected to produce "substantial savings relative to the $5.2 billion estimated cost," the company said.

Based on its 30% ownership of the joint venture, Fluor said it plans to book its portion of the project into backlog once the contract receives final approval and a notice to proceed is issued.

"The Fluor team developed a unique and innovative design that reduced the weight of the structure and minimized the number and size of foundations required," the firm said in a statement.

"The design solution also utilizes a shallow superstructure and a 350-ft long-span design to minimize the number of piers and provide a sleeker-looking bridge that enhances the view corridors within the lower Hudson Valley. The main span is a composite deck cable-stayed structural system with outwardly inclined main-span towers that create an iconic look and accommodate future transit loads," the statement continued.

The winning proposal was way below the two other bids, one of which came in at $3.99 billion and called for dredging 1.8 million cu yd of the Hudson River; the other bid came in at $4.05 billion and called for dredging 1.55 million cu yd of the Hudson River.

Fluor said the design will allow for dredge quantities to be reduced from 1.8 million cu yd to less than one million cu yd, lessening environmental impacts, costs and schedule durations. The company said the plan also calls for the use of unique heavy-lifting equipment that Fluor and its partner American Bridge own and had custom-built for the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge project. Construction of the new Tappan Zee bridge is expected to take five years.

For one experienced bridge designer, the design is worthy.

“As cable-stayed construction has become more commonplace for bridges in the span range of the Tappan Zee, it has become more and more difficult for engineers to distinguish their designs,” says John Hillman, senior associate with Teng & Associates Inc.

The Thruway Authority's selection committee, comprising artists, architects and engineers, also endorsed the winning proposal.

New York public officials cheered the news.

In a statement, U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said, “We are glad the Thruway Authority executive board chose the option which is least expensive to the public and has a lesser environmental impact on our region. A new bridge is not only necessary for transportation but will be a boon for economic development in the entire Hudson Valley region.”

Added Rob Astorino, Westchester county executive,  “The selection of the proposal by Tappan Zee Constructors delivers on three critical fronts: cost, completion time and mass-transit readiness to carry express buses on Day One. And after so many years of gridlock, building a safer and less congested bridge as soon as possible is the most attractive option for Westchester. I thank the governor and his team for their thorough review and for the appointment of the mass-transit task force that will identify short-, medium- and long-term transit solutions for the new bridge and the I-287 corridor.”


This article was updated on Dec. 18 to incorporate comments from Fluor Corp.