Rendering courtesy of New York State Thruway Authority
This replacement for the aging Tappan Zee Bridge (above) will have a dual-span design, with construction set to take about five years.
Peter Sanderson oversaw construction of the replacement I-35W bridge in Minneapolis in 2008.

The project manager who helped oversee the speedy replacement of the collapsed Interstate-35W bridge in Minneapolis is now set to run one of the largest bridge projects in the nation.

The New York State Thruway Authority has hired bridge engineer Peter Sanderson as project manager for the $3.14-billion Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project.

With a reported annual salary of $340,000 per year, Sanderson will lead a team from HNTB, which is acting as owner's engineer, and will oversee design-build contractor Tappan Zee Constructors, a consortium of Fluor Enterprises, American Bridge Co., Granite Construction Northeast, Traylor Bros. and HDR.

“The project director will be responsible for keeping the New New York Bridge on schedule and within budget, and Peter Sanderson is an outstanding choice for this role because he has extensive experience and a proven track record," says Thruway Authority Chairman Howard P. Milstein in a Feb. 20 statement.

Sanderson, formerly a project manager at Flatiron Construction, Longmont, Colo., served as the project lead on the effort to build a replacement span in Minneapolis following the fatal 2007 collapse of the I-35W bridge. The new bridge was completed three months ahead of schedule, just thirteen months after the collapse. For his work on the project, ENR named Sanderson a Newsmaker for 2008.

Sanderson's salary has drawn fire from the Civil Services Employees Union, which represents many Thruway Authority employees. CSEA president Danny Donahue said “this is disgraceful in every way, paying one employee that kind of money at the same time [New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D)] is laying off necessary workers to prove a political point shows contempt for the workers and the public.”

The Thruway Authority recently notified 234 workers that they will be laid off in April, and is currently engaged in labor negotiations.

The Authority and TZ Constructors are planning to release an official project budget and schedule to the public in May, according to a press release. Currently there are plans to perform test borings in the Hudson River and establish a staging area by the end of March. The next tentative milestones are test piling installation in June and dredging operations to begin in August.

The first of the bridge's two spans is expected to open in 2016, with a completion date for the entire project set for 2018.