Four Teams Short-Listed for $5-Billion Tappan Zee Bridge Rebuild

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Four Teams Short-Listed for $5-Billion Tappan Zee Bridge Rebuild

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Four Teams Short-Listed for $5-Billion Tappan Zee Bridge Rebuild
 By Debra K. Rubin, with Aileen Cho {}

New York state transportation agencies have qualified four of five design-build teams that sought places on the short-list to build the estimated $5-billion-plus replacement of the aging Tappan Zee bridge across the Hudson River, north of New York City.

State Thruway Authority and Dept. of Transportation officials disclosed in a Feb. 7 announcement that five teams were vying for technical, financial and management qualification, among other criteria. But they did not confirm reports from executives close to the competition that a team headed by Italy’s Impregilo SA and U.S.-based Halmar was not selected to proceed.

The new span will be the state’s largest-ever bridge project.

Those approved by the 47-member technical review team are:

Hudson River Bridge Constructors, a group including Dragados USA, Inc., Flatiron Constructors Inc., Samsung C&T, E&C Americas Inc. and Yonkers Contracting Co. Inc. Design firms include T.Y Lin and HNTB, according to sources.

A joint venture of Kiewit Infrastructure Co., Skanska USA Civil Northeast Inc., Weeks Marine Inc. and subcontractor ECCO III Enterprises Inc. with engineers Parsons Brinckerhoff and Parsons Transportation Group.

Tappan Zee Bridge Partners, a JV of Bechtel Infrastructure Corp. and Tutor Perini Corp. also qualified, with its engineers believed to be Michael Baker, STV and Gannett Fleming.

Tappan Zee Constructors, made up of Fluor Enterprises Inc., American Bridge Co., Granite Construction Northeast Inc., and Traylor Bros. Inc., with engineering from HDR, Buckland & Taylor and URS.

The Impregilo-Halmar team was also believed to include engineers Hardesty & Hanover LLP, Louis Berger Group and Hatch Mott McDonald, according to competitor executives.

State officials said that the four teams are set to receive requests for proposals “in the coming weeks.”

According to an executive of one team, agencies are set to meet with short-listed teams as early as next week to review the draft RFP. Creation of the document also includes input from other state agencies to make it "not too restrictive," he says.

Thruway Chief Engineer Ted Nadratowski, the authority's selection official, said,  "This selection of short-listed teams is an important part of the process, but due diligence of all teams and individual companies will continue as we move toward selection of the team who will actually build this bridge." He added that the contract is “the most important procurement we've ever considered, and it must be completed with utmost care at every stage of the process."

The agencies say the winning design-build team for the new span, the state's largest-ever bridge project, will be selected “later this year.” But observers have said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is keen to see work started by the November elections. Says one industry participant, officials "are scrambling."
Fluor would be a disaster, re: Notorious Union Busters for starters.....

Bechtel-TPC looks like the best bet overall for engineering capability, bonding, credit, d/b experience, value engineering, ability to self perform and overall union relations, safety, insurance mod's & overall performance records for large civil/bridge projects of this scope & magnitude.
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Re: Four Teams Short-Listed for $5-Billion Tappan Zee Bridge Rebuild

Anybody here in the NYCDCC want to work for 20%, 30% or 40% less on this Project for its duration?

(Besides Amalgamated) Anybody?


The NYC Market is set to explode with all kinds of projects, shelved since 9-11. Don't be fooled by the games played by the Contractor Associations. Vote these lousy Contracts down and start over - considering the future prospects and projects which have been intentionally delayed.

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Re: Four Teams Short-Listed for $5-Billion Tappan Zee Bridge Rebuild

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Bechtel 4:20


TPC Conference call - tune in, in addition to 4th qtr. results, there should be discussions of upcoming Related Projects at Hudson Yards and the the Tappan Zee D/B Joint Venture with Bechtel
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im not a company guy ill take 20 % less if it keeps me working all year round
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Re: Four Teams Short-Listed for $5-Billion Tappan Zee Bridge Rebuild

Good for you - go work at GM in Flint Michigan...they need men at $29/hr. plus benefits, 3rd shift. You can work steady year round on the truck assembly line. Walmart loves guys like you too & they're hiring all the time, so you can be warm in the winter & have A/C all summer long.

Bridgework requires the best of the best. When you are one of them, you demand top dollar and you do not look to sell out for a penny less - so obvioulsy you are not cut out for it, as you'd fold like a cheap suit. After you sell out for 80%...when they run back and request 70% or 60%, again you'd be on board...once a sellout, always a sell out, so you just exposed your true colors.

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Re: Four Teams Short-Listed for $5-Billion Tappan Zee Bridge Rebuild

your lucky they dont bring in the chinese on work visas to rebuild this bridge then what will you do.

im suprised they didnt bring them in to rebuild ground zero.
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New World Trade Center built with glass Made in China

The Freedom Tower rising at ground zero will replace the World Trade Center destroyed in the attacks on 9/11. It's a national symbol. And it's built with glass made in China and steel made in Germany.

The Freedom Tower was conceived as a symbol of American resilience, an example to the world of America's strength.

But the American company PPG (which you may remember as Pittsburgh Plate Glass) bid on the contract to provide blast-resistant glass for the new World Trade Center. But the project's landlord, the Port Authority, gave the contract to a Chinese government-owned firm that was able to underbid PPG because it is subsidized.

Rebuilt Ground Zero Billed as National Symbol, But Costly Construction Projects Outsourced Overseas

This weekend, thousands of people will gather at the site of the former World Trade Center to mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. On Sunday, a dedication ceremony will be held for the 9/11 Memorial, which will open to the public on Monday. However, construction continues on 1 World Trade Center, which is far from complete. While the 10th anniversary has made international headlines, little attention has been paid to some controversial aspects of the rebuilding at Ground Zero. At a time when President Obama is launching a massive jobs initiative, key parts of the construction project were outsourced overseas. A Chinese glass company won the contract to manufacture the special blast-resistant glass base of 1 World Trade Center. Some 250 tons of stainless steel from Germany will also be imported for the project. So far, just two tenants have agreed to move in to the 105-floor building, the massive skyscraper formerly known as the Freedom Tower. The China Center was the first tenant to sign a deal. Leasing floors 64 to 69, the center will be used to promote the expansion of Chinese companies in the United States and house the U.S. offices of some Chinese firms. And the publishing giant Condé Nast has agreed to be the anchor tenant by leasing floors 20 to 41 at a heavily subsidized rate. We’re joined by Joe Nocera, business columnist for the New York Times who has closely followed the rebuilding at Ground Zero and recently wrote a column titled "9/11’s White Elephant." We also speak with Scott Paul, executive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing. [includes rush transcript]

And the structural steel in our new national symbol? Made in Germany.

So while the Freedom Tower is a 'symbol' of national strength, the new World Trade Center is a literal example of something else - how basic industries that built this country and the broadly shared prosperity that was the envy of the world are being destroyed.

The destruction is being done not by terrorists, but by Washington politicians paid to help those who profit from the offshoring of our productive industries.

For the record, the first tenant to sign a lease in the new World Trade Center - the China Center, promoting the expansion of Chinese companies in the United States and providing U.S. offices for Chinese firms.

August 19, 2011
9/11’s White Elephant

There is nothing wrong — and much that is right — with building a national monument to memorialize the nearly 3,000 people killed in the 9/11 attacks a decade ago. The awful events of that day traumatized the country — and changed it. The dead deserve to be remembered. Far be it from me to suggest otherwise.

What I do want to suggest, though, is that what’s being built in the name of 9/11 — a staggering $11 billion worth of government-sponsored construction on the 16 acres we now call ground zero — is an example of just about everything wrong with modern government. When the World Trade Center site is finally completed, it will include a state-of-the-art train station whose cost overruns have surpassed $1 billion. The 9/11 memorial itself, which covers the footprint of the former twin towers, was so far behind schedule that it is now being hastily constructed, out of sequence, so that it will be ready by the 10th anniversary of the tragedy.

And then there’s 1 World Trade Center, scheduled to be completed in 2013, which will add 2.6 million square feet of office space in a city that doesn’t need it, at a cost so high that it will be a cash drain for decades to come. Where’s the Tea Party when you need them?

Last year, I wrote about 1 World Trade Center, pointing out that its $3.3 billion price tag made it, by far, the most expensive office building ever constructed in America. At the time, Richard Gladstone, the project manager for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which is in charge of rebuilding ground zero, told me point-blank that despite its costs, the new skyscraper would not affect the commuters who pay the tolls to cross the six bridges and tunnels the agency operates.

But, on Friday, that statement was shown to be — how to put this nicely? — untrue. The Port Authority, with the complicity of Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie, the governors of New York and New Jersey, who oversee the agency, approved a series of toll increases so onerous that by 2015, a typical commuter who uses the George Washington Bridge will have to pay $62.50 a week to get to work.

What has been especially galling has been the cynicism surrounding the efforts to get the toll increases. First, the Port Authority said that unless it could increase the tolls, it would have to “slow or stop” the construction of 1 World Trade Center. Though this scenario was highly unlikely, it got the construction unions duly aroused, as it was intended to do. They began calling in favors among the politicians.

The Port Authority was originally going to propose two increases of $2, spaced a few years apart. But the politicos in both Cuomo’s and Christie’s offices suggested that the agency come forth with a much higher initial toll increase — thus allowing the two governors to look like heroes when they “persuaded” the Port Authority to lower the increases. The governors also railed on about waste and fraud at the Port Authority, while knowing full well the real problem was the fact that $3.3 billion — money that could have been spent on needed infrastructure improvements — was instead diverted to a white elephant at ground zero.

I understand that it’s hard, even for a blunt-talking fiscal conservative like Christie, to openly criticize 1 World Trade Center. For many people, its rebuilding has enormous symbolic importance. George Pataki, the former New York governor, who pushed hardest for the rebuilding, originally named the building Freedom Tower. Recent editorials in the New York tabloids objecting to the toll increases nevertheless tiptoed gingerly around the outrageous costs of 1 World Trade Center.

But despite the shroud of patriotism that its supporters have always cloaked it in, it’s really just a big, fancy office building. An office building with such poor economics that it will soak New Jersey and New York commuters for decades to come. An office building only the government could love.

Lately, supporters of the project have begun saying that its economics have improved. They point to the fact that Condé Nast, the publishing giant, has agreed to be the anchor tenant. What they fail to point out is that Condé Nast’s rent is less than half the break-even cost of the 1 million square feet it will occupy. In other words, a company that publishes high-end magazines aimed at rich people will be getting an enormous government subsidy for the foreseeable future.

And who will be paying for that subsidy? The mailroom attendants who use the Lincoln Tunnel to get to work. The middle-class New Jersey-ites who use the George Washington Bridge. The firefighters and police officers who live in Staten Island. Thus, in the name of 9/11, does New York and New Jersey place another economic burden on the already overburdened middle class. How sad.
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Re: Four Teams Short-Listed for $5-Billion Tappan Zee Bridge Rebuild

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Tappan Zee Bridge Opening, circa 1951, cost $60 Million

Ninja 250 Drive over Bridge
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Proposed replacement 
Main article: New Tappan Zee Bridge
The superstructure was constructed during a period of material shortages during the Korean War. The deteriorating structure, which bears far more traffic than it was designed for, has led to plans to repair the bridge or replace it with a tunnel or a new bridge.[19][20] These plans and discussions were whittled down to six options and underwent environmental review. Part of the justification for the replacement of the bridge has been that it was constructed during material shortages during the Korean War and designed to last only 50 years.[21] The collapse of the I-35W Mississippi River bridge in Minnesota on August 1, 2007 has renewed concerns about the bridge's structural integrity.[22]
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is studying the feasibility of either including a rail line across the new bridge or building the new bridge so a new rail line can be installed at a future date. The rail line, if built, will be located on a lower level, beneath the roadway. Commuter rail service west of the bridge in Rockland County is limited, and the MTA is studying expansion possibilities in Rockland County that would use the new bridge to connect with Metro-North's Hudson Line on the east side of the bridge along the Hudson River for direct service into Manhattan.
On September 26, 2008, New York state officials announced their plan to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge with a new bridge that includes commuter-train tracks and lanes for high-speed buses. The bridge would cost $6.4 billion, while adding bus lanes from Suffern to Port Chester would cost $2.9 billion. Adding a rail line from the Suffern Metro-North station and across the bridge, connecting with Metro-North’s Hudson Line south of Tarrytown, would cost another $6.7 billion. The plan is being reviewed for environmental impact.[23]
Meetings by the New York State of Transportation with local communities were held in December 2009. They revised the replacement cost including road, rail, and bus to be $16 billion.[24]
After years of public comment in favor of including public transportation on the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement, and after all previous replacement alternatives studied by the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) as part of the required environmental review included transit, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Federal Highway Administration in October 2011 abruptly reversed course. The new project they advanced lacked transit and transit advocates assert that, if built as proposed, the replacement bridge would lock in new auto- and truck-only infrastructure for years. Transit advocates have complained that NYSDOT has consistently over-estimated the cost of transit in the replacement, in some cases claiming that the cost could be $10–15 billion for transit alone. Transit supporters have argued that a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system incorporated into the bridge can cost less than the state's projected range of $900 million to 2.5 billion. By comparison, the bridge replacement project without transit is estimated to cost $5.2 billion.[25]
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Procuring N.Y.'s $5-Billion Tappan Zee Bridge Will Be 'Really Tight'
 By Debra K. Rubin with Aileen Cho {}

New York state transportation officials and industry participants are scrambling to meet Gov. Andrew Cuomo's push to have work under way later this year on the $5-billion-plus replacement of the aging Tappan Zee Bridge. Four design-build teams shortlisted on Feb. 7 have yet to see a final request for proposals but have only until about mid-June to submit their detailed design and building plans, says a state transportation agency spokesman. "We've had more time on $50-million jobs," says one team executive who declined to be identified during the contracting phase.

The Hudson River span will be New York's largest bridge and the first procured under a design-build law enacted in December.

One team shortlisted by the State Thruway Authority and Transportation Dept. is led by Dragados USA and Flatiron Constructors. The state did not release or confirm, by press time, names of any team's engineers, but T.Y. Lin and HNTB are on this one. Also shortlisted is Kiewit Infrastructure Co., Skanska USA Civil and Weeks Marine with Parsons Brinckerhoff and Parsons Transportation Group.

Bechtel Infrastructure and Tutor Perini Corp. qualified, with designers Michael Baker, STV and Gannett Fleming. Also shortlisted is a team of Fluor Enterprises, American Bridge, Granite Construction and Traylor Bros., with designers HDR, Buckland & Taylor and URS. The authority said five teams sought to bid, but a spokesman did not confirm competitors' reports that a team headed by Italy's Impregilo and U.S.-based Halmar was not selected. Halmar did not respond by ENR press time.

"Due diligence of all teams and individual companies will continue as we move toward selection of the team who will actually build this bridge," says Ted Nadratowski, Thruway chief engineer. While price is key, teams will also be judged on factors such as management strength, bridge maintainability and "architectural iconism," says the executive. Teams have until Feb. 16 to submit questions on a draft RFP received on Feb. 9 "that's a mile deep," says a participant who also requested anonymity. He says teams remain concerned about receiving pile-load-test data needed as a design guide.

The authority spokesman would not confirm team member reports that the procurement includes a $2.5-million stipend for each proposing team. "Even the losers get lucky sometimes," says Wall Street construction sector analyst Avram Fisher of BMO Capital Markets. "The contract is large enough that even members of the losing bids could be selected to subcontract portions of the work."

Cuomo is keen to start construction by November, possibly as early as August, team participants and others say. "I'm going to build Tappan Zee just to show we can," he told an industry dinner last month. But firm executives also wonder how well agencies not used to design-build procurement will keep the process on track.

Tappan Zee Bridge;
 Hudson River;
 New York;
 Andrew Cuomo;
 NY State Thruway Authority;
 NY State Transportation Dept.;
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WHAT IS THE TAPPAN ZEE? The name of the Tappan Zee Bridge was derived from Indian and Dutch origins. In pre-colonial days, the Tappan Indian tribe inhabited the area. When the Dutch inhabited New York in the 1600's, the Hudson River was called a "zee," or wide expanse of water. In 1994, the bridge was re-dedicated in honor of Malcolm Wilson, who served as governor of New York State in 1974 and 1975, and for nearly 15 years before that as lieutenant governor under Nelson Rockefeller.

THE NEED FOR THE TAPPAN ZEE BRIDGE: Plans for a trans-Hudson crossing from Westchester County had first arisen in the 1920's. The trans-Hudson bridge was proposed in conjunction with a circumferential highway that would encircle the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area. After spending many years in limbo, the circumferential highway plan was given serious consideration in the years after World War II, which saw unprecedented demands on the regional highway system.

In 1949, the New York State Thruway Authority (NYSTA) established as its goal the development of a toll superhighway connecting the major cities of New York State. Originally proposed to end in Suffern, Rockland County, the mainline route was extended into New York City after engineering and fiscal experts agreed that the extension would serve as an integral part of the system.

Earlier bridge plans called a crossing between Dobbs Ferry, Westchester County and Piermont, Rockland County (near Tallman Mountain State Park). However, the proposed Dobbs Ferry-Piermont location fell within the 25-mile radius of the Port Authority, which held jurisdictional rights to Hudson River crossings within its jurisdiction. The challenging geography of the lower Rockland County palisades also would have made construction of a connecting east-west roadway difficult.

In 1951, the proposed bridge was relocated to the current Tarrytown-to-Nyack location, incorporating the proposed Thruway extension between Suffern and New York City. This route would connect to (and take maximum advantage of) north-south arteries on both sides of the Hudson River, not only those in Westchester and Rockland counties, but also those existing or under construction in New York City, Connecticut and New Jersey. It also took advantage of the proposed route of the Cross Westchester Expressway (along the Central Westchester Parkway right-of-way), which was to comprise part of the metropolitan beltway

In June 1951, not long after the route of the span had been approved, workers drove the initial test pilings. Construction of the Tappan Zee Bridge, which was delayed by steel shortages brought about by the Korean War, began in March 1952. The engineering firm Madigan-Hyland oversaw construction.
Work on the Tappan Zee Bridge proceeds in these 1953 photos. (Photos from "This Is Westchester" supplied by James Rumbarger.)

BUILDING THE FOUNDATIONS: Eight underwater concrete caissons, which support about 70 percent of the bridge's dead weight, are themselves supported by steel piles driven to rock. The caissons incorporate a "buoyant" design that stores pressurized air within small compartments. Water is periodically pumped out of these compartments, which range in number from 8 to 24 in each caisson, to achieve the desired buoyancy. This innovative design saved millions of dollars in construction costs.

The two largest caissons, which support the two main towers of the bridge, are 100 feet by 190 feet, and weigh 16,000 tons each. The two caissons for the flanking piers are 77 feet by 124.5 feet, and the four smallest caissons are 46 feet by 100 feet. Each caisson is 40 feet high, and has exterior walls that are 34 to 45 inches thick.

The caissons were constructed in a natural clay pit at Grassy Point, Rockland County, which is about 10 miles north of the bridge site. This pit, which is 32 feet below the river's surface at its deepest point, was the largest natural dry dock in the world. About 350,000 gallons of water were pumped out to permit construction of the caissons. All eight caissons were transported by barge to the bridge site, the first of which arrived on October 13, 1953.
Once the caissons arrived, they were floated into their exact position by maneuvering them into a fender system built for each pier. Open wells lined with corrugated, galvanized iron were run vertically through the compartmentalized walls of the caissons. The caissons were then filled with water and sunk atop a five-foot blanket of sand and gravel about 42 feet below the river surface. 

Between Westchester and Rockland counties, the riverbed of the Hudson River consists of layers of silt hundreds of feet deep. With bedrock more than 300 feet below sea level, engineers found it difficult to lower the caissons. To solve this problem, they drove steel pipe piles, some up to 270 feet long, into the bedrock through the open wells of the caissons. Once the piles were driven, the pipe piles were cleaned out, filled with concrete and then encased by concrete within the walls to pin the caissons permanently in place. 

As construction of the bridge added dead weight to the caissons, water was pumped from them to obtain the desired buoyancy. Two pumps, a 60-gallon-per-minute pump for small amounts of water and a 300-gallon-per-minute pump for larger amounts, were installed at the low point of each caisson. These pumps continue to regulate the buoyancy of each caisson.

In addition to the 42,702 cubic yards of concrete, a total of 1,602,200 feet (303 miles) of timber piles, 330,500 feet (62.5 miles) of steel "H" pile and 33,400 feet (6.3 miles) of 30-inch steel pipe piles filled with concrete were used to construct the foundations.

 LEFT: Construction crews on the Tappan Zee Bridge meet midway on the cantilever span above the Hudson River in this 1955 photo. RIGHT: Diagram of a typical caisson on the Tappan Zee Bridge. To reach the bedrock more than 300 feet below the Hudson River, workers drove long concrete-filled steel piles from each foundation into the bedrock. (Photo and diagram by New York State Thruway Authority.)

  THE MAIN CANTILEVER SPAN: The original design of the Tappan Zee Bridge included a 1,112-foot steel tied-arch span for the main channel of the Hudson River. As construction progressed on the rest of the span, steel fabricators decided not to bid on the main span because their estimates exceeded that of the chief engineer. Subsequently, engineers selected a more economical cantilever design. The main cantilever span, which was to be 100 feet longer than the originally proposed main steel arch span, was to be the widest of its type.

 Two steel falsework structures, each 16 stories high, were used to construct the main span and the two 293-foot-tall towers. Each falsework structure measured 517 feet long, 93 feet wide and 168 feet high. Derricks atop the falsework were used to build the main towers. Approximately 1,700 tons of steel were used for the falsework, which was constructed at Grassy Point and shipped by barge to the bridge site.

The derrick on each falsework had a 40-ton lifting capacity, and was used in erecting a 100-ton stiff-leg derrick on the main structure. The stiff-leg main structure derrick was used in the erection of the towers, the main span and the side spans.

The main cantilever span, which measures 1,212 feet in length, is comprised of cantilever spans of 340 feet and a suspended span of 531 feet. It is flanked by two 602-foot side spans.

THE DECK TRUSS SPANS: On either side of the main and side cantilever span are nineteen deck truss spans, each measuring 235 to 250 feet long, 93 feet wide and 28 feet deep. Each of the spans, which weighed as much as 900 tons, was shipped by barge from the Grassy Point assembly site, and hoisted into place by four 500-ton jacks. Two sets of falsework were constructed at Grassy Point to enable the workers at the bridge site to work without interruption. The falsework was returned to Grassy Point after each of the truss spans was delivered to the bridge site.

PIER PROTECTION: Until recently, all eight caissons are protected by an all-around pile fender system. During 2000, workers constructed a new pier protection system: the two main piers are now protected by a new, pre-cast concrete ring structure on steel pipe piles, while the flanking piers are now protected by a new, reinforced timber system designed to current standards. Concrete icebreakers, each of an equilateral, triangular hollow shape and measuring 90 to 110 feet long, are employed at each of the eight caissons. Icebreakers, which are of timber pile cluster construction, are used for the approaches.  

 This 1998 photo of the Tappan Zee Bridge was taken from the southeast angle in Tarrytown.Part of the New York State Thruway system, the Tappan Zee Bridge carries I-87 and I-287 across the Hudson River between Tarrytown and Nyack. Recent discussion has focused on its replacement by either a new bridge or by a tunnel. (Photo by Steve Anderson.)

  THE BRIDGE AND THE THRUWAY SYSTEM: On December 15, 1955, the Tappan Zee Bridge was completed as part of the New York State Thruway system, replacing the Tarrytown-Nyack ferry that existed previously. The $80.8 million bridge and its approaches required the relocation of 200 homes in Tarrytown and South Nyack.

   Opened as part of the Suffern-to-Yonkers section of the Thruway, was designed to carry 100,000 vehicles on a peak day. During 1956, its first full year of operation, the bridge carried approximately 18,000 vehicles per day. That year, the bridge was included as part of the Interstate highway system. Originally designated I-387 for a brief period, the bridge was re-designated I-287 in 1958.

The Tappan Zee Bridge, whose main cantilever span remains the ninth longest in the world, now carries approximately 135,000 vehicles per day over its seven lanes. In recent years, the completion of the I-287 beltway around New York and New Jersey has placed heavy traffic demands on the Westchester-to-Rockland span. By 2025, approximately 175,000 vehicles are expected to cross the Tappan Zee Bridge each day.

When the bridge opened, tolls were collected in both directions. Today, tolls are collected only in the southbound / eastbound direction. In December 2003, the NYSTA opened two new 35 MPH EZ-Pass lanes to speed traffic through the Tarrytown toll plaza.

THE MOVABLE BARRIER SYSTEM: To maximize roadway efficiency, the seven-lane bridge utilizes a moveable concrete barrier. Tom Caruso of the NYSTA supplied the following information on the bridge's movable barrier system:

The seven-lane Tappan Zee Bridge, which currently employs a movable barrier system, converted in 1992 from a four-lane southbound, three-lane northbound configuration with Jersey barrier. Prior to 1987, the bridge had a three-lane northbound, three-lane southbound configuration, with a single-lane, wide-open, curb-height median strip.

Under normal circumstances, there are four southbound and three northbound lanes, separated by a jointed, moveable barrier. This configuration is switched from four-lane southbound, three-lane northbound to three-lane southbound, four-lane northbound each day around 2:00 PM for the afternoon rush, and then changed back later in the evening. Each changeover takes about 45 minutes.

The system used is from a company called Barrier Systems, and is similar to that used in a number of road construction sites, with the exception of the actual machine. Each three-foot-long section is made of concrete and is tied together by a metal hinge system. The cross-section of each section looks much like a jersey barrier, except for a "T"-shaped flare at the top. This flare is used by the barrier machine to pick up each section of the wall.

The Barrier Systems web site shows a big gangly orange machine that is typically used in construction, but on the Tappan Zee Bridge, there are three half-lane-width machines that are used two at a time in tandem to move the barrier. (Most likely, this setup causes less traffic congestion than using a single full-lane-width machine.) Moreover, these machines, which are painted "Thruway yellow and blue," are enclosed for all-weather use.

The first barrier machine starts at one end of the Tappan Zee Bridge, straddles the barrier in a channel that runs through the undercarriage on a curved diagonal, lifts it several inches, slides it over a few feet and sets it down in place. The second machine follows a few yards behind to complete the lane shift. On each machine, there are two operators at either end for steering. These operators follow guide markings painted on the pavement.

GOING PRIVATE? In January 2005, just one day after New Jersey acting Governor Richard Codey proposed either selling or leasing rights the state's toll roads to private investors, NYSDOT Commissioner Joseph Boardman hinted at selling the Thruway, or parts of the Thruway such as the Tappan Zee Bridge, to private investors. Governor George Pataki has not commented on this plan.

  This 2002 photo shows the westbound (northbound) Tappan Zee Bridge approaching the main cantilever span. Note the "zipper barrier" in the center median. (Photo by Jim K. Georges.)

  A NEW TAPPAN ZEE BRIDGE? In April 2000, the engineering firm Vollmer Associates completed a three-year-long comprehensive study of the Tappan Zee Bridge and the I-287 corridor for the NYSTA, the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and the Metro-North Railroad. The study determined that the following upgrades would be needed for the existing structure:

  The bridge's original 6�-inch-thick concrete deck should be replaced with a pre-cast panel deck that meets the modern 10-inch-thick standard. Thruway construction projects in the mid-1990's have already replaced the original deck along 20 percent of the bridge, mostly on the southbound (eastbound) lanes of the eastern deck truss. A second project to be completed in November 2002 will replace the deck on the northbound (westbound) lanes of the eastern deck truss, necessitating partial closures during off-peak hours. Still, approximately three-quarters of the original bridge deck has yet to be replaced.

The bridge should be strengthened to ensure its structural safety. Since the bridge opened, a seventh lane was added to handle growing traffic, and research has shown that the wind loads on the bridges are actually greater than the bridge was originally designed to handle. These increased load requirements have taxed the reserve strength built into the bridge. Additionally, studies have shown that the bridge is vulnerable to seismic activity.

Modern AASHTO-compliant pier protection (fender) systems should be constructed to protect the bridge's eight caisson-supported piers from boat collisions and ice flows on the Hudson River.

The causeway sections should be completed replaced. This project would consist of constructing a new deck, piers and supporting beams.

Finally, the entire length of the bridge should be seismically retrofitted. The report estimated that an earthquake registering between M5.0 and M6.0 could cause serious damage to the bridge, particularly on the causeway section.

In combination with traffic demand management (TDM) measures, rehabilitation of the existing Tappan Zee Bridge was estimated to cost $1.3 billion. However, this alternative neither increases vehicular capacity nor serves anticipated mass transit needs.

Instead, the Vollmer Associates study recommended a complete replacement of the existing span with a new eight-lane bridge. To accommodate the anticipated growth in reverse commuting, the bridge would have four permanent lanes in each direction. Moreover, the study explored the following mass transit options along the bridge and the I-287 corridor:

DEDICATED BUSWAY: connecting express bus stops at Suffern, Palisades Center, Tarrytown, White Plains (Westchester County Center) and Port Chester; estimated cost $2.0 billion.

LIGHT RAIL: connecting stations at Suffern, Palisades Center, Tarrytown, White Plains and Port Chester; estimated cost $2.6 billion.

COMMUTER RAIL: connecting stations at Suffern, Palisades Center, Tarrytown, White Plains and Port Chester; estimated cost $3.4 billion. This option would provide connections for a "one-seat ride" to New York City via the Metro-North Hudson Line, and changes for the New Haven, Harlem and Port Jervis lines. (A new extension of the rail line to Stewart Airport would bring the cost to $4.0 billion.)

Under all three options, improvements in roadway and interchange capacity would be made along the I-287 corridor. Specifically, the I-87 / I-287 interchange in Elmsford would be reconstructed, and I-287 would be expanded from six lanes to eight lanes (four in each direction) between the Garden State Parkway in Spring Valley and I-684 in White Plains. The NYSTA owns land on 150 feet of either side of the bridge for such roadway expansion.

Mark Kulewicz, director of traffic engineering and safety service at the Automobile Club of New York (the local affiliate of the AAA), advocated a new bridge as follows:

Instead of spending $1 billion to patch up a bridge that is already straining to handle the region's growing traffic volume, why not avoid all those years of messy construction delays and invest $4 billion in a modern structure that can serve more commuters, and in new ways?

For this new bridge - let's call it Tappan Zee II - would be no carbon copy of its predecessor. While the present bridge maintains seven lanes of traffic (including one center lane that switches directions for morning and afternoon rush hours with the aid of a moveable barrier), Tappan Zee II as envisioned would boast eight permanent lanes of traffic, four in each direction. And in the plan's most novel concept, the bridge's auto lanes would be flanked by tracks for a new commuter rail line that would run from Suffern in Rockland County to MTA-Metro North's New Haven tracks at the Port Chester station in Westchester County.

With a brand new eight-lane bridge and a new rail system to further ease auto traffic in a busy commuter corridor, why do we hesitate crossing over? First, we see a need to take a look at the larger Rockland-Westchester corridor to determine if the source of current commuter delays does not lie elsewhere, perhaps on the Cross Westchester Expressway (I-287), where interchange improvements are due to begin soon. Second, we would want some reassurance that the new rail line to be grafted onto the Tappan Zee II will attract a sufficient ridership to justify its cost. Is it possible that less costly projects - such as an exclusive bus lane on the bridge or the introduction of high-speed ferry service on the Hudson - offer better alternatives?

Not everyone agreed with the findings of the Vollmer study. Peter Samuel, editor of the Toll Roads newsletter, said that the findings were rigged against highway expansion and in favor of mass transit, citing the following:

Highway expansion was ruled out in this report by deploying blatantly stacked criteria in the alternatives analysis. The report was prepared for a Governor's Task Force led by MTA transit agency head Virgil Conway. The study rejected increased highway capacity - apart from the extra single bridge lane to allow fixed 2x4-lane operation in place of the present 4-lane-east / 3-lane-west AM, 3-lane-east / 4-lane-west operations - on the novel grounds that the increase in highway capacity would be "finite." The bizarre argument is made in this report that because extra capacity would be exhausted beyond 2020, there would be no "flexibility to handle traffic growth beyond 2020."

Variable pricing is rejected on the grounds that the peak is already heavily spread, due in part to the severity of peak congestion, so there is little '"shoulder'" capacity for pricing to exploit. Reverse commuting (westbound mornings, eastbound evenings) is growing so fast that reversible lanes will not work.

Finally, how transit-oriented are the people in this corridor? Despite years of subsidized transit it represents a mere three percent of trips to work. Yet despite the clear preference of the people of the corridor for car travel, the Conway task force did not set better car travel, or alleviation of road congestion as one of its goals. On the contrary, the first goal is to "decrease highway travel during weekday peak periods." The next goal is to "increase public transit use." The group was not even interested in catering to public needs as expressed by their travel preferences, but in manipulating a mode shift from road to rail transit.

The NYSTA is in the midst of a public information campaign as a prelude to the public hearing process. The agency presented 15 alternative designs for evaluation in December 2003 from more than 150 submitted, and subsequently subjected them to environmental studies. In September 2005, the NYSTA narrowed the list down to the following six alternatives:

ALTERNATIVE 1 ("NO BUILD"): The existing seven-lanes bridge would in maintained in its existing condition to avoid critical levels of deterioration. Estimated cost: $500 million to $700 million.

ALTERNATIVE 2 (REHABILITATION): This option would feature a complete rehabilitation and seismic retrofit of the span. Enhanced bus service and new park-and-ride lots also are part of this option, which is estimated to cost between $2.0 billion and $2.5 billion.

ALTERNATIVE 3 (NEW BRIDGE WITH BUS RAPID TRANSIT): This alternative would replace the existing bridge with a new span. The new span would feature eight general-use lanes, two bus rapid transit lanes that could be used for HO/T use (in which there would be a higher toll for single drivers), and breakdown shoulders. The HO/T lanes would run along I-287 (and I-87) from Suffern to Port Chester. Estimated cost: $5.0 billion to $6.5 billion.

ALTERNATIVE 4A (NEW BRIDGE WITH WESTCHESTER-ROCKLAND COMMUTER RAIL): The features of the new bridge are the same as in alternative 3, but would add a commuter (heavy) rail line from Suffern to Port Chester. Estimated cost: $11.5 billion to $14.5 billion.

ALTERNATIVE 4B (NEW BRIDGE WITH ROCKLAND COMMUTER RAIL AND WESTCHESTER LIGHT RAIL): The features of the new bridge are the same as in alternative 4, but would add a commuter (heavy) rail line from Suffern to Tarrytown, and a light rail line from Tarrytown to Port Chester. Estimated cost: $10.0 billion to $12.5 billion.

ALTERNATIVE 4B (NEW BRIDGE WITH ROCKLAND COMMUTER RAIL AND WESTCHESTER BUS RAPID TRANSIT): The features of the new bridge are the same as in alternative 4, but would add a commuter (heavy) rail line from Suffern to Tarrytown, and bus rapid transit lanes along I-287 from Tarrytown to Port Chester. Estimated cost: $9.0 billion to $11.5 billion.

  This 2002 photo shows the westbound (northbound) Tappan Zee Bridge along the long causeway section. (Photo by Jim K. Georges.)

  SHOULD THERE BE A NEW SUSPENSION BRIDGE? One proposal devised by URS Creative Imaging suggested building a dual-deck suspension bridge across the Hudson River that would carry 10 to 12 lanes of vehicular traffic, but would have no rail provision. The suspension bridge would be constructed parallel and to the north of the existing span, which would remain in continuous operation during construction.

  The bridge itself would have a main span of approximately 3,000 feet, with side spans of approximately 1,000 feet. Suspender cables would support the western side span (as in a conventional suspension bridge), but the eastern side span would be supported by pile supports because the roadways would curve toward the existing approach before the main cables reach the anchorage. Two 500-foot-tall towers would support the main cables. However, it would be difficult to build anchorages in the silt-laden riverbed of the Hudson, leading some engineers to question the viability of a suspension bridge.

OR A NEW TUNNEL? In the October 2000 issue of Boating on the Hudson, environmental activist Alexander Saunders began his pitch for a tunnel across the current Tappan Zee site. Saunders' proposal has garnered the attention of environmentalists, transportation experts and regional planners. The "Tappan Tunnel" article stated the case for the tunnel as follows:

In the current social and economic context using current technology, tunneling provides significantly more economics, safety, less intrusiveness to the municipalities affected, and less disruption to continuing traffic. Modern tunneling equipment is reliable, efficient, safe and highly economical in its use of manpower. In addition to producing the needed transportation infrastructure, tunneling yields very valuable byproducts. The gravel produced by the excavation is readily marketed and in short supply. The real property currently under pavement has great value when returned to private use, which may include residential developments, industrial parks and municipal parks. The final cost of an underground highway and rail system will be significantly less than continued maintenance and enlargement of the current surface system.

The tunnel facility would consist of three 60-foot-diameter tubes, with three traffic lanes (and continuous emergency shoulders) constructed on the upper level of each of the three tubes, and two rail lines on the lower level of each of the tubes. Combined, the six rail lines would serve both commuter and freight traffic. An additional service tunnel may be constructed for maintenance and emergency usage.

To build the tunnel, one or more boring machines (each costing up to $50 million) would tunnel beneath the Hudson River. Each machine would have a "production rate" of up to 130 feet per day. The steel-and-concrete lined tubes would be burrowed through the soft sediments below the riverbed.

According to the RPA, an engineering analysis would be necessary to determine appropriate highway and rail grades. The existing maximum grade between Nyack and Tarrytown is 1.2 percent, well within the three-percent maximum for Interstate highway service, but just outside the one-percent maximum for rail service. A major drawback of this proposal would be that the tunnel would overshoot EXIT 9 (US 9) in Tarrytown and EXIT 10 (US 9W) in South Nyack.

Borrowing from tunneling breakthroughs achieved during the late 1990's in Europe, Saunders estimates that the Tappan Zee Tunnel would cost $700 million (not including the cost of approach highways), and be constructed within five years. He proposed that the Tappan Zee Tunnel be part of a long-range master plan to place the entire I-287 corridor - from Suffern, Rockland County to Syosset, Nassau County - in a combined road-and-rail tunnel.

THE NEW FAVORITE DESIGN: A CABLE-STAY SPAN: Toward the end of 2005, the cable-stay bridge option emerged as a favorite because it offers almost the same long-span and capacity capabilities of a suspension bridge option at a significantly lower cost. Moreover, a cable-stay span does not require the deep concrete anchorages necessary for suspension bridge construction.

REACHING CONSENSUS, BUT IS IT TOO AMBITIOUS? On September 25, 2008, officials from NYSDOT, NYSTA, and Metro-North agreed upon a proposal to build a new Tappan Zee Bridge that would accommodate vehicular, bus rapid transit (BRT), and commuter rail traffic (the so-called "Alternative 4B"). The bridge itself would cost $6.4 billion and after a design and environmental review period, currently is scheduled for construction between 2012 and 2017. Construction of a new $2.9 billion BRT corridor on I-287 between Suffern and Port Chester and a $6.7 billion heavy-rail corridor to connect Metro-North stations in Tarrytown and Suffern would be built at a later built. However, given the financially tumultuous environment in which the joint proposal was announced, it remains to be seen whether the 2012-to-2017 construction time frame could be met and the ancillary mass transit projects be built.

If built with a cable-stay design, the new Tappan Zee span likely would resemble the Oresund Bridge, which was built between 1996 and 2000 to connect Denmark with Sweden, but on a larger scale. The Oresund Bridge carries four lanes of highway traffic on its upper deck and two high-speed rail tracks on its lower deck, while the new Tappan Zee would carry eight lanes of vehicular traffic as well as a dual-track accommodation for heavy rail.

  THE TAPPAN ZEE SUSPENSION BRIDGE: One alternative proposed for the Tappan Zee corridor calls for a dual-deck suspension bridge. At the present time, no alternative has been adopted officially, though a cable-stay alternative has emerged as the favorite. (Photo by URS Creative Imaging.)

  BUILD A NEW TAPPAN ZEE SUSPENSION BRIDGE: To cope with the projected 48 percent increase in traffic during the next 20 years, a new dual-deck, 12-lane suspension bridge and causeway should be built to replace the existing Tappan Zee Bridge. The second deck could be used for HOV and bus use only during peak periods (e.g., morning and afternoon rush, as well as summer weekends and holidays). The HOV and bus lanes would be extended east and west along I-287, providing a cost-effective mass transit alternative.

 WHAT OTHERS HAVE TO SAY: Douglas A. Willinger, frequent contributor to and former Westchester County resident, provided the following comments in misc.transport.road:

The new Tappan Zee crossing should have a minimum of eight vehicular lanes, plus provisions for commuter rail. Given that the new crossing would be expected to last at least for the next 50 years, and given the relative shortage of east-west capacity in Westchester County, such a crossing should be constructed with not only rail, but also additional highway lane capacity.

Since the I-287 beltway was completed through northern New Jersey in 1994, traffic has increased considered along the I-287 corridor through Westchester and Rockland counties. To remedy this congestion, a dual-carriageway setup (perhaps with four local lanes and two express lanes in each direction) would probably make sense. This arrangement would improve safety separating long-distance traffic from local traffic.

Chris Blaney, frequent contributor to and misc.transport.road, proposes a solution for adding capacity between Westchester and Rockland counties as follows:

For the suspension bridge option, the upper deck should have six lanes of traffic, and the lower deck six lanes. The upper deck would carry four lanes of fixed express traffic (two eastbound, two westbound), with a pair of reversible express lanes in the center that would carry an additional toll over and above the other express lanes during peak periods. All the express lanes would be available only to passenger cars and buses with EZ-Pass tags.

The lower deck would carry six lanes of local Tappan Zee Bridge traffic for trucks and non-EZ-Pass passenger cars and buses. It should be reversible so as to provide four eastbound lanes in the morning, and four westbound lanes in the evening, using a zipper barrier system as is used on the existing bridge.

The toll on the new Tappan Zee Bridge should be the same as that on the Port Authority trans-Hudson crossings. Using the central express lanes would cost the same as the cash toll, and be charged in both directions.

Approaching the new Tappan Zee Bridge, the New York State Thruway between Suffern and Tarrytown should go from its existing six-lane configuration (three lanes in each direction) to a nine-lane (3-3-3) configuration in which the three center lanes would be reversible. Under this design, six lanes would be provided eastbound (southbound), and three lanes would be provided westbound (northbound), during the morning rush hour. This configuration would be reversed during the afternoon rush hour. The reversible express lanes would have reduced toll and a speed limit of 65 MPH (as opposed to 55 MPH for the local lanes).

 Type of bridge:

Construction started:
Opened to traffic:
Length of main cantilever span:
Length of side cantilever spans:
Length of bridge, main and side spans:
Number of secondary deck truss spans:
Length of secondary deck truss spans:
Total length of bridge and approaches:
Width of bridge:
Number of traffic lanes:
Clearance at center above mean high water:
Height of towers above mean high water:
Concrete used in eight caissons:
Concrete used in entire structure:
Reinforcing steel used in entire structure:
Structural steel used in entire structure:
Timber piles used in bridge foundations:
Cost of original structure:

 Cantilever and trussMarch 16, 1952
December 15, 1955
1,212 feet
602 feet
2,416 feet
19 spans
235 feet to 250 feet
16,013 feet
90 feet
7 lanes
138.5 feet
293 feet
42,702 cubic yards
153,900 cubic yards
14,610 tons
59,250 tons
1,602,200 feet (303 miles)


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Re: Four Teams Short-Listed for $5-Billion Tappan Zee Bridge Rebuild

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Nicole Gelinas
The Tappan Zee Is Falling Down
Why is New York taking so long to replace a vital bridge?

 Spring 2011

Last October, more than a year into his $787 billion stimulus program, President Obama concluded in a New York Times Magazine interview that “there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects.” To learn why America can’t build stuff quickly (or even slowly), Obama should take a rush-hour ride over the Tappan Zee Bridge, which connects Rockland and Westchester Counties over the Hudson River, just north of New York City.

The Tappan Zee exemplifies the state of America’s infrastructure in 2011. We rely on it more than ever: each year, 51 million cars, trucks, and buses traverse the seven-lane “Tap,” as locals call it. More people commute over it than through the Lincoln or the Holland Tunnel, both of which cross the river to the south. Yet New York outgrew the bridge decades ago, with today’s traffic far exceeding the structure’s designed capacity. Worse, the Tappan Zee is a disaster in slow motion. Absent ceaseless repairs and ever-vigilant inspectors, it could collapse. Even short of such a disaster, the bridge’s deterioration poses a significant risk to the regional economy: if state officials ever felt that they were losing the battle against the Tap’s decay, they would shut it immediately, diverting traffic to already-clogged arteries to the south and preventing thousands of the downstate region’s workers and customers from getting to their destinations.

The Tappan Zee’s parlous condition is nothing new. Yet New York State, after more than a decade of halfhearted attempts to start building a replacement, remains at least another decade away from finishing a new bridge—in fact, a half-decade away from even beginning the project. This failure reflects a lack of political will, a weakness that threatens the Empire State’s capacity to grow.

The Tappan Zee was one of the last bridges to arise under a vanished American way of doing things: build stuff first, ask questions later. In the spring of 1950, Governor Thomas Dewey decided that the 535-mile New York State Thruway that he was laying down would include a three-mile bridge from Rockland, just north of New Jersey, into Westchester, where people could drive on to New York City.

Then he got it built. Shortly after Dewey’s reelection that November, the new Thruway Authority, which would run the highway and the bridge, announced that it had selected a site between Tarrytown and Nyack—a section of the Hudson called the Tappan Zee (after the Tappan Indian tribe and the Dutch word for “sea”). Even as local residents screamed, anticipating the disruptions of construction and traffic that would change their towns’ character, Thruway chairman Bertram Tallamy made clear that since he had the governor’s support, it would be his way and the highway. He wouldn’t consider an alternate site, “although he wouldn’t say why,” the New York Times reported.

By March 1951, Dewey had secured the state legislature’s approval. By May, the Army Corps of Engineers, which needed to approve plans affecting navigation in national waterways, had signed off on the state’s drawings. Several months later, the Thruway Authority was awarding construction contracts on a project that would gobble up one-third of South Nyack, including its downtown.

Work on the $81 million project—$668 million in today’s dollars—hit its peak intensity by 1953. Those Rockland residents who hadn’t lost their property endured “a sleepless nightmare,” the Times said, as workers on a 24-hour schedule engaged in “raucous thumping and banging of pile drivers all night.” Two weeks before Christmas 1955, Dewey’s successor, Governor William Averell Harriman, inaugurated the bridge with the help of a marching band and jet flyovers. By its first Sunday, newspapers were pointing out that the bridge was “crowded,” with a “minor accident” causing “a 20-minute tie-up.” From a gubernatorial green light to traffic jams had taken only five years.

The bridge spurred new houses and jobs, as officials had hoped. Rockland’s population more than doubled between 1950 and 1968, from 90,000 to 210,000. Companies—Volkswagen, Xerox, the Geigy Chemical Corporation, and other major firms—took advantage of a much larger pool of potential commuters and created solid office and industrial jobs in the county. And with nearly two-thirds of eastbound drivers using the bridge to drive to Westchester and New York City, those more populous areas benefited from the growing base of commuters living in Rockland.

No governor today could build a massive public-works project with so little public input. A little more than a decade after the Tappan Zee’s completion, activists in New York City, including Jane Jacobs in the West Village, started challenging public officials’ authority to plow highways through neighborhoods with little public review. Conservationists, too, began to fight new projects. In 1971, Governor Nelson Rockefeller declared the Hudson River Expressway, five years in the planning, dead, after opponents got a federal court to forbid its construction and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal. More than a decade later, a federal judge killed off Westway, a decade-old plan to make Manhattan’s rotting West Side Highway run underground, charging that government officials had failed to study the project’s impact on striped bass in the Hudson.

It’s tempting to romanticize the old way of doing things, and easy, too, to say that the solution to our infrastructure woes is less citizen involvement. Times columnist Thomas Friedman said as much in 2009, writing that “one-party autocracy,” at least when “led by a reasonably enlightened group of people,” has its advantages, such as the ability to get controversial projects done fast. But in the Tappan Zee’s case, building too quickly—and too cheaply—created some of the bridge’s present-day problems.

True, New York has simply outgrown the Tappan Zee, something you can’t blame on the bridge’s original planners. Today, with Rockland’s population reaching 300,000 people, four times as many people cross the span daily as the state had originally projected. State figures suggest that congestion on the bridge more than doubles the duration of what should be a 30-minute commute between Suffern, on the west side of the Hudson, and Port Chester, on the east. (To cope with the traffic, the Tap’s managers have been inventive—for instance, deploying a movable barrier to reverse the direction of one lane during peak travel periods.) The traffic volume contributes to an accident rate four times higher than the Thruway’s average. And because the Tappan Zee has no room for a breakdown lane, each accident cascades into more delays and congestion.

But the Tappan Zee’s planners were responsible for some of the bridge’s woes. In 1950, engineers warned that on the Rockland side of the proposed bridge, bedrock began 300 to 800 feet below sea level. Anchoring the bridge so deeply was beyond the technology of the time, so the state settled on an untested design that “floated” above bedrock in softer soil and water—mud, really—on top of “sofa pillows” and wooden pilings, as the Times described it. But Mike Anderson, who runs the state Department of Transportation’s task force on the proposed Tap replacement, points out that those pilings are consequently so near the river’s surface that they’re “exposed to the ecosystem and the air in low-tide circumstances,” which makes them vulnerable to decay. Thriving marine life in a cleaned-up river has the potential to set up housekeeping in the wooden supports—though the Thruway, which inspects for such things, says that it hasn’t happened yet. The supports also don’t meet modern earthquake standards.

Moreover, officials cut corners, building parts of the bridge “thin and light” to save money, the state noted in a 2009 report—a strategy “not conducive to long-term durability.” They also didn’t want to incur the expense of dealing with New Jersey politics, and so they didn’t seek a narrower crossing for their bridge across the state line—even though such a crossing would mean a shorter bridge and a lighter load for their untested design. By 1960, only five years into the bridge’s operation, cheap finishes, which let moisture seep into key components, were putting the structure at risk.

Most troubling of all was that the Tappan Zee’s engineers designed it to be “nonredundant.” That is, a critical fracture could make the bridge fail completely because its supports couldn’t transfer the structure’s load to other supports. Mid-century engineers and their political overseers built bridges this way, notes Sam Schwartz, New York City’s chief infrastructure engineer in the 1980s, in part because they thought that new computer technology eliminated any risk of miscalculation.

Partly because the Tappan Zee is nonredundant, its tendency to deteriorate matters a lot. Each decade, the Thruway Authority has more than doubled the money it spends just to keep the bridge open, and experts believe that the rate of growth in maintenance costs is likely to increase. Eventually, the state’s Department of Transportation warns, “continuous maintenance of the Tappan Zee Bridge will be so disruptive and costly as to render the crossing obsolete.” Just over the current decade, the Thruway Authority will spend $1 billion on the bridge, including $300 million to replace the deck. As the state began work on that project, motorists were already noticing “punch-throughs”—gaping holes in the roadway, including one that “provided a clear view of the Hudson River below,” reported the Hudson Valley’s Journal News.

Motorists’ concerns about the bridge’s safety intensified after 2005, when the Journal News got hold of a 2004 inspection report that highlighted “design flaws, corrosion, and years of neglect,” as the paper described it, including an 11-fold increase in “flag” warnings and a persistent column crack that resisted patching. The concerns grew still more intense in 2007, when the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis, a structure of nonredundant design and similar vintage, collapsed and killed 13 people. The Tappan Zee is “absolutely” safe, the Thruway Authority insists. But according to the Department of Transportation, current conditions requiring modification include “diaphragm beam cracks,” “bearing deterioration,” “column top deterioration,” “column base deterioration,” and “cross-beam deterioration.” You don’t have to be an engineer to know that those things aren’t good.

Further, the Tappan Zee could fail without actually collapsing, notes construction lawyer Barry LePatner, who has studied 600 bridge failures around the country over the past two decades for his book Too Big to Fall. If inspectors decided that a critical component of the bridge was unsafe and got appointed officials to agree, the Department of Transportation could shut the span down without warning during one afternoon commute. That’s exactly what the department did in autumn 2009, closing an 80-year-old bridge over Lake Champlain in upstate New York. Despite 20 years’ worth of extensive repairs, including a deck replacement, the cracked bridge was unsalvageable; the state blew it up that December. Drivers won’t have a replacement until the end of this year, at the earliest.

Knock the far busier Tappan Zee out, and the economic impact would be much larger. The bridge handles 22 percent of the 233 million vehicles that cross the Hudson River downstate each year. The nearest bridge to the north is 29 miles distant, and its connecting roads can’t handle heavy traffic. The Tappan Zee’s drivers, then, would further clog the already-jammed George Washington Bridge, 24 miles to the south, as well as the Lincoln Tunnel and the Holland Tunnel. Commutes would be nightmarish, causing lost work time and lost business.

Every day that New York delays replacing the bridge forces the public to keep shouldering this risk. As Anderson makes clear, no rehabilitation can remedy the existing structure’s built-in vulnerabilities; eventually, time, weather, and weight will win. New York needs a new bridge.

New York officials have been aware of this need for more than a decade. In that time, the state has committed $83 million—to build a 2,078-page (and growing) pile of paper.

Prospects for a new bridge looked good in 1999. The economy was doing well, and Governor George Pataki seemed eager to build. “I probably shouldn’t say this, . . . but we are looking at the possibility of completely replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge,” he said on the radio that summer in response to a complaint about traffic. “It’s one of the options under consideration by the Thruway Authority because it is so old.” Newspapers began to speculate about possible timelines. Bob Baird, a Journal News columnist, figured that it would take at least three years to build a new bridge; the Times gave it ten.

The state began considering public and expert input as it considered different options. The plans that it gradually came up with were sensible: unlike the original, the new Tap would be firmly anchored and wide enough to accommodate heavier traffic and a breakdown lane. It would be big and strong enough to carry a Metro-North line in the future, giving Rockland residents a mass-transit option into New York City, though dedicated bus lanes would perform that duty at first. The bridge itself would cost $9.3 billion; adding trains (and train stations) later would bring the total to $16 billion.

All this planning was perfectly reasonable: a new bridge should take longer to design and build than the original Tappan Zee did, because New York should get it right this time. But the planning should have taken just a couple of years, and the bridge should long since have been under construction. Instead, in the best-case scenario, construction won’t start until 2015. New York’s new governor, Andrew Cuomo—who chartered a boat shortly after his election last November to inspect the bridge and called its replacement “a very important issue”—probably wouldn’t be able to cut the ribbon of a Tappan Zee Two even by the end of a second term.

One reason for the foot-dragging is the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), which President Nixon signed in 1970 and which requires states seeking federal money for infrastructure projects to prepare “environmental impact statements.” Under NEPA, a state’s department of transportation must announce its plan to draw up such a statement; consider alternatives to meeting its goal (including doing nothing); hold public hearings; draw up a draft statement; hold more public hearings; draw up a final statement; secure the approval of various federal agencies; and only then start its project. Twelve years after Pataki spoke out, New York is only at the “draft” stage of this long process. Last year, to speed things up, the state decided to do separate impact statements for the bridge and railroad phases of the project, but even so, it won’t release a final statement on the first phase until at least 2012. “There’s no question that the NEPA process slows things down,” says Jeffrey Zupan, who has studied the Tappan Zee project for the Regional Plan Association.

NEPA delays infrastructure projects partly because of officials’ worries about the courts. Everyone involved in New York infrastructure remembers Westway; nobody wants to be responsible for deciding not to hold the public hearing or for not considering the alternative proposal that a judge later singles out as the reason that he’s awarding an injunction against construction. So Albany often errs on the side of doing too much infrastructure prep. For example, to account for New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s cancellation of a Hudson River rail-tunnel project, which could affect regional traffic, New York may revise its predictions of bridge traffic and its impact on air quality.

It may seem absurd to be so careful about environmental impacts. Westchester County is not pristine wilderness, and the state’s traffic projections are likely to be wrong, in any case. But New York would rather spend the time and money on consultants now than face a court fight five years out. Congress should address these real concerns, perhaps allowing states to self-certify environmental impacts rather than undergo the crushing federal process.

The deeper problem behind all the delays, however, is not regulatory but political. When New York officials want to do something quickly, they don’t worry overmuch about legal niceties, public input, or possible court challenges. It took politicians little more than a year to comply with NEPA’s requirements for the Fulton Street transit center in lower Manhattan, for example—a project favored by Sheldon Silver, the powerful Speaker of the state assembly. It also took little more than a year to secure NEPA approval of extending the Number 7 subway line to the Far West Side of Manhattan, a project that Mayor Michael Bloomberg threw his political weight—and the city’s money—behind. The Atlantic Yards basketball stadium and housing project in Brooklyn doesn’t involve federal money, so officials didn’t need to deal with NEPA in that case, but they did steamroll over a similarly rigid state-environmental review process, inviting the state court cases that arose.

No politicians, though, have championed the Tappan Zee. That’s not surprising, since they wouldn’t get much out of it politically. It doesn’t offer affordable housing, as Atlantic Yards supposedly does. Nor does it open up vast new tracts of land to development and tax revenues, as the West Side extension is supposed to. And it isn’t a project funded by a pot of 9/11 money, as the Fulton Street project was (at least until costs exceeded those funds). All the pols will get for building a new Tappan Zee is complaints for years on end about construction and money—so that some future politician won’t have to watch a bridge collapse. Indeed, the existence of NEPA allows politicians like former governors Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson—and Pataki, too—to enjoy press credit for wanting to do something about the Tappan Zee without actually having to do it.

State lawmakers have an additional excuse to avoid building: that a new bridge would cost too much. But that isn’t true. The government has the resources. New York is the fourth-richest state in the country in per-capita personal income, according to census data. New Yorkers’ per-capita state and local tax burden is the nation’s third-highest, the Tax Foundation says. The state will spend $93 billion this year, not including federal resources.

The issue is not that New York doesn’t have the money but that it spends it on other things. Of that $93 billion, $19.5 billion will go to aid local school districts, $17.3 billion will fund Medicaid, and another $6.2 billion will pay for public-employee benefits. Transportation infrastructure will get just $2.8 billion (for a total of $3.6 billion when combined with federal grants). Yes, New York has a transportation “trust fund,” which is supposed to devote fuel-based taxes to fund and manage infrastructure—but Albany, over nearly two decades, has developed a bad habit of raiding the trust fund’s coffers and replacing the looted money with borrowed funds, leaving it spending nearly 70 percent of its revenues on interest and other debt-related costs.

It’s true that replacing a bridge in a dense environment is an expensive proposition. To avoid mucking up commutes for the entire New York City region, the Thruway Authority would have to keep the existing span open during construction, and the state, to avoid taking private property on both sides of the Hudson, would need to attach the new Tappan Zee to the old bridge’s connections to dry land. These steps would require more inspectors, more maintainers, and more careful engineering and construction on the new bridge, so as not to endanger the old bridge and the people still using it. Raising a new Tap would also require a lot of expensive nighttime labor, when traffic is lighter on the original bridge. And if a subcontractor thinks that it will be done, say, with some ramp work by 5 am but doesn’t quite finish, its workers can’t remain on the job for another hour, when cars start to flow; they must go home and start over the following night. Minimizing pollution and noise in a busy environment by restricting delivery routes and schedules adds further costs. But real leadership means explaining to the public that these costs, heavy though they are, are nevertheless outweighed by the danger of the current bridge’s collapsing.

Leadership also means refusing to cite supposedly uncontrollable cost overruns as a reason to avoid building. Planners can control costs, and while price tags will inevitably be hefty, they don’t have to be unpredictable. Indeed, Barry LePatner, the construction lawyer, calls cost overruns inexcusable: “You can plan for any contingency.” State officials shouldn’t risk being surprised by a contractor who starts work and later claims that he must jack up the price because, say, the water is deeper than he thought. The state should draw up a contract in which it carefully writes up contingency costs for hundreds of possible technical conditions. “These are known unknowns that can be negotiated,” says LePatner.

Another way to ward against overruns would be to bid out the project under a “design-build” plan.  [currently in progress]Instead of hiring a team of consultants to design the span and then choosing a contractor to execute the drawings, the Department of Transportation would hire one contractor to do both design and construction. Under design-build, the risk that a project costs more than expected is assumed by the contractor—usually a global construction and engineering firm or a group of such firms. Governments across the world employ this approach. Closer to home, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is pursuing such a plan for the smaller Goethals Bridge replacement project between Staten Island and New Jersey.

Albany could even let firms bid on designing, building, and maintaining the bridge for a decades-long period. This kind of arrangement gives the builder an incentive to do work that lasts, because the state doesn’t pay the builder up front for the construction work. Instead, the payments are stretched out over time and depend on the project’s performing well. “The government has the leverage in the relationship,” says Joe Aiello of the Meridiam Infrastructure fund, which manages such projects globally, including the $2 billion Tarrant Expressway in Texas and the $900 million Port of Miami Tunnel, both under construction. If structured properly, these long contracts can ensure, too, that the builder and maintainer squirrels enough early revenues away for later years, when maintenance costs will grow. Albany’s normal practice, by contrast, has been to use infrastructure surpluses for other purposes.

Still, no contract structure obviates the need for political discipline. In 1992, the British government chose a team of companies to design, construct, and operate the M6 highway—and then watched as local opposition prompted “the longest ever public inquiry for a road project,” according to a 2007 report prepared by the project-management firm Aecom. Eight years later, the project finally got a green light, and the government had to pay the companies for the delays.

To succeed, then, the Tappan Zee “needs a political champion” to push the project along, argues Douglas Fried, a partner at the law firm Chadbourne & Parke, which advises on public-private partnership structures. If the state appears to waver, it could wind up paying more. As Karl Reichelt of the construction company Skanska notes, global firms are willing to assume all kinds of technical and other risks, but they deeply fear political risk—the possibility that their clients could do what Pennsylvania did two years ago. The state decided to privatize its turnpike, invited bidders to spend millions of dollars preparing bids for a long-term contract, and then dropped the whole idea at the last minute.

Political discipline demands keeping your mind made up once you have started something, too, counsels LePatner. Often, the culprit behind cost overruns is “change orders” that the state sends the contractor after altering its thinking, mid-project, about what kind of work it wants done and on what schedule. Not only are the requested changes often legitimately expensive; they’re also being performed by a contractor who has already won a bid and thus has little incentive to name a good price. On the current Tappan Zee deck-replacement project, the Thruway Authority has placed 14 change orders, totaling nearly $30 million in extra costs.

Nor can strict contract rules and innovative partnerships with the private sector eliminate the need for political leadership on labor costs, which would constitute 25 percent to 40 percent of the price of a new Tappan Zee. There isn’t much that Governor Cuomo can do about federal and state “prevailing wage” rules, which distort the cost of public-works projects by prescribing pay-scale bands for everyone from carpenters to steelworkers, union or nonunion. But a governor intent on controlling costs could produce labor savings in other ways. Construction crews normally operate under union rules that can confine days to seven hours, with expensive overtime kicking in after that; define jobs so narrowly that two people have to be on site to do one person’s job; and allow for irrational scheduling of holidays, so that members of a crew take different days off, slowing down work. In their current round of negotiations with construction unions, private-sector New York employers are hoping to slice 25 percent from labor costs, largely through reforming work rules. Cuomo could do the same on the Tappan Zee.

One more way to control costs is just to get started. As Japan begins to rebuild from its March earthquake and tsunami, it will demand more steel and cement, pushing up global prices. And as the local economy improves, Cuomo will have less power over laborers enjoying demand for their work.

Governor Cuomo needs to realize that time is running out. To make sure that New York will have a bridge in the future, he should make three cases.

The first would be to President Obama and Congress. Last year, New York’s department of transportation, in a report prepared with Merrill Lynch, concluded that “federal funding is the single most important revenue source” to replace the Tappan Zee. In general, Albany tries to get the feds to cover 50 percent of the tab for large infrastructure investments, but the last federal transportation bill expired nearly two years ago, and the next one could be less generous. To encourage the feds to support the new $9.3 billion Tappan Zee, even at a lower rate—say, 30 percent—Cuomo could capitalize on the fact that Obama still hasn’t achieved the goal that he set out with his 2009 stimulus and reiterated more than a year later: to “make sound and long-overdue investments in upgrading our outdated and inefficient national infrastructure.” Cuomo should say that under his leadership, New York can prove that a big project can be shovel-ready.

The second case would be to the New York legislature. New York—if the federal government does chip in that 30 percent—would be responsible for $6.5 billion. Even if it can raise $3 billion through higher tolls, the legislature would have to find at least another $3 billion. But surely a state with as much revenue as New York can afford that investment over time in the infrastructure that underpins the private-sector economy—which, in turn, pays for all the commitments that the legislature makes, from education and Medicaid to public-sector workers’ pensions.

The third case would be to the public. If taxpayers across the state are going to approve the government’s investment in the Tappan Zee, the governor will need to convince them that a new bridge is crucial—and that he can get it built.

Nicole Gelinas, a City Journal contributing editor and the Searle Freedom Trust Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, is a Chartered Financial Analyst and the author of After the Fall: Saving Capitalism from Wall Street—and Washington.
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Court Orders New York State DOT to Stop Highway Project and Rebid Job
 By Esther D'Amico

Text size: A A

A state court has ordered the New York State Dept. of Transportation to cancel an interchange upgrade project already under way and rebid the job because the agency violated competitive bidding laws by requiring compliance with a project labor agreement.
A state Supreme Court judge in Albany ruled that including the labor pact was illegal in this case and "tainted" the bidding process by its inclusion. The agency says in a statement that it is reviewing its options on the project "to maximize taxpayer dollars on this critically important transportation project." The agency halted all work on the project on March 5, an spokeswoman says.

At issue is a $72.4-million contract to upgrade Route 17 and the Exit 122 EB interchange in Orange County that was awarded to joint venture firm, A. Servidone/B. Anthony Construction Corp., Castleton, N.Y. The joint venture’s bid complied with the project agreement and was $4.5 million higher than the lowest bid.

The state DOT had originally advertised the project without a project labor requirement early last year with a March 24, 2011 bid deadline. However, the judge’s decision indicates that the Hudson Valley Building and Construction Trades Council proposed a project agreement for the job, and the New York State DOT ultimately approved.

In his ruling, Justice Joseph C. Teresi says that the agency failed to demonstrate that the decision to include compliance with the project agreement had "as its purpose and likely effect the advancement of the interests embodied in the competitive bidding statutes." 

New York's DOT added a project labor requirement for the job 11 days prior to the bid date, says Mark Galasso, president of Lancaster Development Inc. Richmondville, N.Y., the low bidder. Lancaster stated that its bid would be without a project agreement requirement as the procurement initially stipulated, which caused the state DOT to reject the bid after opening, Galasso says. Lancaster sued the agency over the award.

"We had already prepared the bid," Galasso says. "But, last minute, they had a requirement of the job that the contractor who won the bid had to use union workforce." Had the agency's original advertisement indicated that the job required a PLA, "we would have been unable to bid it because, as an open shop contractor, it would force us to fire our entire workforce" and hire union workers, he says.

Galasso says that if the agency decides to accept the judge's ruling and rebid the job, his firm will submit a bid again. "That is all we were asking for in the first place,” he says. However, “if they decide to appeal, we will challenge the appeal."

Meanwhile, the A. Servidone/B. Anthony Construction joint venture team, which began construction on the job last October and reportedly has so far completed less than about 10% of the work, appears to be caught in the middle. "The joint venture bid the job as per the proposal set forth by the state Department of Transportation. There was only one way to bid," says Mark Servidone, president of A. Servidone Inc. "Our company followed the provisions of the bid proposal."

Servidone and his joint venture partner Bob Cavaliere, president of B. Anthony Construction, tell ENR New York that they are disappointed in the court’s decision and are evaluating an appeal.

"We also feel that we complied with contract documents and are being penalized for being prudent," Servidone says. He says the joint venture is waiting to see what the state DOT decides to do. "The [judge’s] decision is very fresh, and the agency hasn’t yet decided what direction to take," he says. "Our company hopes this unusual issue can be resolved amicably with the Department of Transportation.

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  Reader Comments:

Anonymous wrote:

The pla was a Cuomo/union brainstorm. The same group that wants to build the new Tappan crossing. Bad sign?

 3/7/2012 5:46 PM CST


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Re: Four Teams Short-Listed for $5-Billion Tappan Zee Bridge Rebuild

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In reply to this post by Ted
Boston Harbor settled the pre-emption challenges to PLA's under 8(e) & (f) of the NLRA relative to the Construction Industry. The key to this is whether the government is acting as a regulator or if it exercises its proproetary interest as a market participant.

Tappan Zee has already been short-listed for a D/B with pre-qualified teams. The reader comments are misplaced, as there are no non-union market participants who could successfully capitilize or bond a project of this scope or magnitude, thus negating any form of effective challenge by the Associated Builders & Contractors.

The fact is, they have trouble completing simple wood frame projects, schools or box stores and any challenge mounted, other thamn to delay the project would be swiftly disposed by the Courts.

U.S. Supreme Court

BUILDING & C. TRADES COUNC. v. ASSOC. BLDRS., 507 U.S. 218 (1993)
507 U.S. 218
 No. 91-261

Argued December 9, 1992
Decided March 8, 1993 *  

[ Footnote * ] Together with No. 91-274, Massachusetts Water Resources Authority et al. v. Associated Builders & Contractors of Massachusetts/Rhode Island, Inc., et al., also on certiorari to the same court.
Following a lawsuit over its failure to prevent the pollution of Boston Harbor, petitioner Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) - the state agency that provides, inter alia, sewage services for eastern Massachusetts - was ordered to clean up the harbor. Under state law, MWRA provides the funds for construction, owns the sewage treatment facilities to be built, establishes all bid conditions, decides all contract awards, pays the contractors, and generally supervises the project. Petitioner Kaiser Engineers, Inc., the project manager selected by MWRA, negotiated an agreement with petitioner Building and Construction Trades Council and affiliated organizations (BCTC) that would assure labor stability over the life of the project, and MWRA directed in Specification 13.1 of its solicitation for project bids that each successful bidder must agree to abide by the labor agreement's terms. Respondent organization, which represents nonunion construction industry employers, filed suit against petitioners, seeking, among other things, to enjoin enforcement of Bid Specification 13.1 on the grounds that it is preempted under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The District Court denied the organization's motion for preliminary injunction, but the Court of Appeals reversed, holding that MWRA's intrusion into the bargaining process was pervasive, and not the sort of peripheral regulation that would be permissible under San Diego Building Trades Council v. Garmon, 359 U.S. 236 , and that Bid Specification 13.1 was preempted under Machinists v. Wisconsin Employment Relations Comm'n, 427 U.S. 132 because MWRA was regulating activities that Congress intended to be unrestricted by governmental power.

The NLRA does not preempt enforcement by a state authority, acting as the owner of a construction project, of an otherwise lawful [507 U.S. 218, 219]   prehire collective bargaining agreement negotiated by private parties. This Court has articulated two distinct NLRA preemption principles: "Garmon preemption" forbids state and local regulation of activities that are protected by 7 of the NLRA or constitute an unfair labor practice under 8, while "Machinists preemption" prohibits state and municipal regulation of areas that have been left to be controlled by the free play of economic forces. These preemption doctrines apply only to state labor regulation, see, e.g., Machinists, 427 U.S., at 144 . A State may act without offending them when it acts as a proprietor and its acts therefore are not tantamount to regulation or policymaking. Permitting States to participate freely in the marketplace is not only consistent with NLRA preemption principles generally, but also, in this case, promotes the legislative goals that animated the passage of the NLRA's 8(e) and (f) exceptions regarding prehire agreements in the construction industry. It is undisputed that the Agreement between Kaiser and BCTC is a valid labor contract under 8(e) and (f). In enacting the exceptions, Congress intended to accommodate conditions specific to the construction industry, and there is no reason to expect the industry's defining features to depend upon the public or private nature of the entity purchasing contracting services. Absent any express or implied indication by Congress that a State may not manage its own property when pursuing a purely proprietary interest such as MWRA's interest here, and where analogous private conduct would be permitted, this Court will not infer such a restriction. Pp. 224-233.
935 F.2d 345, reversed and remanded.

BLACKMUN, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.


Given the 130+ PLA's allegedly negotiated by McCarron & Spencer, NYCDCC Carpenters have sacrificed enough. You will live with those agreements for the next 3-5 years with the ensuing 1-year warranty periods for any call-backs.

Tappan Zee & Hudson Yards need to be "hands off" with regard to the DC's newly elected team, executive committe members or council delegate body negotiating any side-deals with any trade council or contractor association or contractor ultimately selected crying wolfe that the project cannot be built without it.

First, the rank & file need to Vote down the proposed Final Contracts.

Second, the rank & file must hold the aforementioned party's feet to the fire for both Projects, both of which should be performed at the newly negotiated full contract rates which will follow the vote.

The Contractors and the Project Owners want the best workers for these projects and when you want the best, you have to to pay to get it!

Anyone sells out on these two projects, kiss your two-terms in office goodbye.
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House Passes Bill To Aid Proposed $633M St. Croix River Bridge
 By Tom Ichniowski
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 [ Page 1 of 2 ]

Related Links:
Minnesota-Wisconsin Link Faces Another Lawsuit (ENR June 2007)

A controversial proposed bridge over the St. Croix River between Wisconsin and Minnesota has cleared a big hurdle: Congress has approved a bill exempting the project from the requirements of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The statute bars federally funded projects that would harm such rivers' scenic qualities.

The Senate approved the measure in January. House passage, which came on March 1 on a strong 339-80 vote, is the final congressional action on the measure. The bill now goes to the White House.

The Obama administration has not issued a formal position statement on the bill, but one of the measure’s supporters, Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood supports the project.

The project’s estimated cost is $633.4 million, including $410.8 million for construction and $55 million for engineering, according to the Minnesota Dept. of Transportation. MnDOT says the project’s potential cost ranges from $574 million to $690 million.

Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.), who opposed the bill, said that, if enacted, it would call for the first-ever waiver of the 1968 rivers statute, which bars federal agencies from funding water-resources projects that would have "a direct and adverse effect" on the "values" of rivers designated as wild or scenic.

The project would include a 4,950-ft-long, four-lane bridge, measured from the Minnesota-side abutment to the Wisconsin abutment. It would be an extradosed bridge, with several towers, each rising about 70 ft from the bridge deck. [more bid opportunities]

It would replace the two-lane Stillwater Lift Bridge, which was built in 1931 and is about a mile north of the proposed site for the planned new structure.

Congressional lawmakers wanted to act quickly because, in a Feb. 21 letter to federal, state and local officials, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) said the legislation had to be approved and enacted by March 15 or funds set aside for the project would have to be reallocated to other projects in the state.

The bill’s supporters include Dayton and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) as well as the two states’ four U.S. senators.

But the plan also has its critics, including Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), who said it would require building a “megabridge” to link Oak Park Heights, Minn., and Houlton, Wis., two small municipalities with a combined population of about 5,100.

 [ Page 2 of 2 ]

McCollum said she supported a replacement for the 81-year-old Stillwater bridge but one that was “more affordable and appropriately scaled.”

The project has a long, bumpy history. In 1995, federal and state officials proposed a replacement for the Stillwater bridge. However, in 1996, the National Park Service determined the project would harm the St. Croix River’s scenic qualities.

In 2005, state and federal officials came up with a revised proposal: a bridge to be located south of the site proposed a decade earlier.

The park service said the revised project would have a negative impact on the river, but it said that impact could be offset through the environmental mitigation measures laid out in a 2006 Federal Highway Administration-National Park Service memorandum.

But the Sierra Club successfully challenged the new plan in federal district court. After the 2010 court ruling on that case, the park service did yet another study. This time it said the plan would have a direct, negative effect on the St. Croix and added that no mitigation could be effective.

Advocates of the project then turned to allies in Congress for a legislative remedy.

The just-passed bill grants the plan an exemption from the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act but also requires the project include the 2006 mitigation program.


St. Croix River;
 White House;
 Wild and Scenic Rivers Act;
 National Park Service;
 Gov. Mark Dayton;
 Gov. Scott Walker;
 Stillwater Lift Bridge
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Re: Four Teams Short-Listed for $5-Billion Tappan Zee Bridge Rebuild

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And the work is drying up huh? Sign the Contract for 25% less huh?, yeah OK

Billion-Dollar Makeover Set For Famous New York Bridge

By Aileen Cho
Text size: A A
[ Page 1 of 2 ]

photo courtesy of port authority of N.Y. and N.J.
billion-dollar makeover Cable and rope rehabilitation, ramp reconstruction and roadway repairs are all part of the plan for the 80-year-old George Washington Bridge between New York and New Jersey.
----- Advertising -----

A full-body rehabilitation program for the venerable George Washington Bridge over the Hudson River is ramping up—literally.

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey has begun preliminary engineering for three rehabilitation projects totaling about $500 million, including a $218-million reconstruction of street and bus ramps linking to the 4,760-ft-long, double-level 14-lane structure. Late last year, the agency approved a $15.5-million investment in repair work on the suspender ropes—the beginning stage of that estimated $1-billion project.

Also, American Bridge Co., Coraopolis, Pa., is in full swing on its $80-million contract to replace orthotropic deck sections of the upper roadway of the bridge, which carries 106 million vehicles annually. "It's like Las Vegas around here—there's always something happening," says Andrea Giorgi Bocker, the GWB's engineer of construction for the port authority. "The bridge is 80 years old now, and it's time to look at everything and fund these major projects."

Made possible by a toll increase authorized in August 2011, the three recently announced rehab projects also will replace 130,000 sq ft of two street ramps and five related bus ramps, says Stewart Sloane, principal structural engineer for the agency. The ramps will be seismically upgraded with reinforcements for the piers and upgraded bearings. "We're just about to start final design," says Sloane. "We plan to put out one contract for all five structures in 2013."

The second of the three projects focuses on upgrades to two 450-ft-long bridges that cross over the bridge's New Jersey Interstate 95 approach. Three of seven spans for the Lemoine Avenue Bridge will be redecked with reinforced concrete, says Sloane, as will all seven nearby Center Avenue Bridge spans.

Rehabilitation of the bridge's six-lane lower level is in preliminary planning, says Bocker. The estimated $200-million job will include lead paint removal, repainting, steel repairs and new travelers. "It will be heavy-duty work, but it's on the underside," so future crews should have less issues with traffic, Bocker adds. Request for proposals may be ready by the end of the year, says Bernie Yostpille, the agency's assistant chief structural engineer. A contract is anticipated in 2014.

Repair work on nearly 600 suspender ropes is expected to begin in 2013 and last eight to nine years, since a maximum of three suspender ropes can be replaced at a time. Work will entail rehabilitating the four main cables and anchorages, relocating two sidewalks along their entire lengths and replacing the necklace lighting attached to the main cables.

A team conducting final design for that work is being led by Ammann & Whitney, the New York City-based firm founded by the renowned designer Othmar Ammann.

The GWB was once the longest suspension bridge in the world, notes Peter Sluszka, Ammann & Whitney vice president. "It was a fantastic accomplishment, in 1931, to spin 3,500-ft-long main cables, each 36 in. in diameter and containing 26,000-plus wires divided into 61 strands," he says. "The wires were dragged across the bridge from anchorage to anchorage with a spinning wheel."

The suspender ropes each contain almost 300 wires. Generally, wire rehab includes replacing the outer coating with a new paste and waterproofing it, Sluszka says. The best protection, a standard practice in Japan, is to inject dry air into the cables, dehumidify them and then allow the air to escape at certain points, he adds. That could be a possibility for the GWB.

Keywords: George Washington Bridge; Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; Ammann and Whitney; American Bridge; suspension bridge
[ Page 1 of 2 ]
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Henry L. Goldberg is managing partner of Goldberg & Connolly and Legal Counsel to the STA. He can be reached by email at hlgoldberg@goldbergconnolly.comor via telephone at 516-764-2800

“Infrastructure Investment Act,”

On December 9, 2011, Governor Cuomo signed into law the “Infrastructure Investment Act,” New York’s first attempt at permitting design-build contracts for public works projects.

The bill authorizes the Department of Transportation, Department of Parks,
Recreation and Historic Preservation, Department of Environmental Conservation and two New York authorities, the Thruway Authority and the Bridge Authority, to utilize design-build contracts. However, such statutory grant of authority is limited to capital projects related to the state’s physical infrastructure.

Physical infrastructure projects include, but are notlimited to, the state’s highways, bridges, dams, flood control projects, canals and parks. If successful, there is little doubt that the design-build procurement method will expand beyond state infrastructure projects, impacting vertical building construction subcontractors more directly in the near future.

The goal of this new piece of legislation is to assist the State of New York in promoting innovation in the replacement or repair of the state’s aging infrastructure. Further, the bill cites the “potential to achieve projects delivered on guaranteed or accelerated schedules, lower costs and risk shifting to the private sector generally retained in conventional design-bid-build projects as well as to accelerate capital investments throughout the state.” Achievement of these goals certainly remains to be seen.

Procuring state agencies and public authorities will engage in a two-step process in awarding designbuild contracts to single entities, or teams comprised of separate entities.

The first step will be the solicitation of a Request for Qualification (“RFQ”) for a proposed project. Contractors will be requested to provide information regarding the experience of their design and construction team, its organization, demonstratedresponsibility, and the abilities of the team or of individual members. The procuring state entities will then generate a short list of contractors that have “demonstrated the general capability to perform the design-build contract.”

The second step calls for the procuring state entity to issue a Request for Proposals (“RFP”) from contractors on its short list, and to select the proposal that gives the “best value” to the state. A proposal that represents the “best value” means one that optimizes
quality, cost and efficiency, price and performance criteria, which may include, but is not limited to:

1. The quality of the contractor’s performance on previous projects;
2. The timeliness of the contractor’s performance on previous projects;
3. The level of customer satisfaction with the contractor’s performance on previous projects;
4. The contractor’s record of performing previous projects on budget and ability to minimize cost overruns;
5. The contractor’s ability to limit change orders;
6. The contractor’s ability to prepare appropriate
project plans;

continued on 9

February 2012 7
8 STA Subcontractors News Putting The Pieces Of Building And Business Together Beyond Protection. Partnership.

When it comes to creating new contacts and connections, we create the perfect fit. From
enhancing market relationships and creating alternative risk financing to forming joint
ventures and acquisition opportunities, our team of experts can put it all together for you.
David W. Marino Regional Executive Vice President
516.396.4422 |


7. The contractor’s technical capacities;
8. The individual qualifications of the contractor’s key personnel;
9. The contractor’s ability to assess and manage risk and minimize risk impact; and
10. The contractor’s past record of compliance with article 15–A of the executive law.

The procuring state entity’s RFP will set forth the project’s scope of work and other requirements, as determined by the procuring state entity. The request for proposals will specify the criteria to be used to evaluate the responses, and the relative weight of each
criterion. Such criteria will include the proposal’s cost, the quality of the proposal’s solution, the qualifications and experience of the design-build entity, and “other
factors” deemed pertinent by the authorized state entity; these may include, the proposal’s project implementation, ability to complete the work in a timely and satisfactory manner, maintenance costs of the completed project, maintenance of traffic
approach, and community impact. Contracts will only be awarded to a responsive and responsible entity that submits the “best” proposal.

For contracts executed by the Department of Transportation, the Departments of Parks, and the Department of Environmental Conservation, the total cost of projects must be at least $1.2 million in order for these departments to utilize the design-build project
delivery method. However, there is no minimum project cost requirement for the two authorized state authorities, Thruway and Bridge.

Significantly, the procuring state entity has discretion to establish payment and performance bonds for design-build projects “as it deems necessary.”

Work awarded pursuant to this bill is subject to current prevailing wage requirements (Labor Law §220), as well as the Wicks Law obligations under §135 of NYS Finance Law, Project Labor Agreement requirements of §222 of the NYS Labor Law, Environmental Quality Review requirements of Article 7 of NYS Environmental Conservation Law, and the objectives and goals of minority and women-owned business enterprises under Article 15-A of the NYS Executive Law.

The new legislation took effect immediately after it was signed in December 2011, and will sunset three years after the date of enactment. However, procurements already in the process as of the sunset date will be permitted to proceed.

G& C Commentary

Although this new, enabling legislation allows design/build public works project delivery for the first time in New York, it only applies to “infrastructure projects”, basically those sponsored by the NYS-DOT and Thruway projects. Vertical building construction
subcontractors, therefore, will not be directly involved to any great extent at this time.

However, the current legislation may very well be a harbinger of things to come as design/build revolves in the public sector into categories of construction in NYS. One can only hope that when this occurs, future legislation or any such authority will be better conceived and drafted.

This legislation was clearly a “rush job” pushed out in the year-end chaos in Albany. It lacks the necessary detail and specifics in almost every respect and will no doubt lead to what will be avoidable controversies and, most likely, litigation.

Although presumably well-intended, the statute provides very little guidance for public owners in utilizing a design/build contracting approach for their projects. There are no standards with respect to the preparation of minimum project performance specifications and related criteria that must be developed by the public owner before soliciting bids
for a design/build project. February 2012 9

“Infrastructure Investment Act” Implements Design Build in New York continued from page 7
continued on 11
10 STA Subcontractors News



The Subcontractors Trade Association is pleased to announce a new incentive program designed to reward those who recruit new members in 2012. RECRUIT A NEW MEMBER TO THE STA & RECEIVE A $100 AMERICAN EXPRESS GIFT CARD START RECRUITING NEW MEMBERS TODAY! Please contact the STA office for promotional materials.

The STA Membership Incentive Program begins March 1, 2012 and ends June 30, 2012.

Subcontractors Trade Association
1430 Broadway, Suite 1600 • New York, NY 10018 • Tel: (212) 398-6220 • Fax: (212) 398-6224 •

124th SEMI-ANNUAL COMMUNION BREAKFAST Friday, March 16, 2012
Speaker: Father Michael Morris

9:45 a.m. Grand Hyatt Hotel
“Empire Ballroom” Park Ave. @ Grand Central,

9:00 a.m. ST. AGNES CHURCH 43rd Street & Lexington Ave. New York, NY
Tickets are $60.00

Contact: Mr. Robert J. Ansbro, Chairman


“Infrastructure Investment Act” Implements Design Build in New York continued from page 9

Furthermore, public owners, and, in particular their field level managers, will likely be very reluctant and unprepared to relinquish the majority of design control to contractors. Unless the minimum or baseline design criteria is carefully prepared prior to bid, any subsequent redesign or demands from the public owner will likely lead to conflict and dispute.

One woefully inadequate provision, that must be legislatively corrected, is the absence of a clear requirement for surety bonds. In fact, the act appears to leave that requirement completely up in the air, with sole discretion being left in the hands of a project’s owner “as it deems necessary.” This is direct contravention to State Finance Law §137 (which isn’t even mentioned in the new legislation) which requires 100% payment bonds on all public works projects over $200,000.00 in New York State. The absence of a clear bonding requirement, eliminating a fundamental protection for both the owner and subcontractors and suppliers, is completely unacceptable.

We all hope, of course, that this initiative will be successful and that design/build, at least during the current economic downturn will be successful. Our concern is, however, that this legislation, while well intended, really ignored the time-tested axiom in the construction industry that the “devil is in the details.”

Henry L. Goldberg is managing partner of Goldberg & Connolly and Legal Counsel to the STA. He can be reached by email at
or via telephone at 516-764-2800
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Re: Four Teams Short-Listed for $5-Billion Tappan Zee Bridge Rebuild

In reply to this post by Ted

Tappan Zee - platforms for test borings re: Pile Design Load criteria to pass on to those pre-qualified to submit bids
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Re: Four Teams Short-Listed for $5-Billion Tappan Zee Bridge Rebuild

This post was updated on .
A Big Bridge In The Wrong Place

The Tappan Zee as New York’s ARC mistake

“I am troubled by the proposed design’s absence of a mass transit component that would help alleviate congestion,” Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, one of many politicians speaking out against the new project, said. “A new bridge — without a mass transit component — would already be at capacity on the day of its opening.”


Governor Cuomo, President Obama, & representatives in Washington and Albany: Include Bus Rapid Transit on the Tappan Zee Bridge, now NOT later!!
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Re: Four Teams Short-Listed for $5-Billion Tappan Zee Bridge Rebuild

In reply to this post by Ted
call or write your Congressman
Senate Passes $109B Highway-Transit Bill
 By Tom Ichniowski

 The long struggle to achieve a surface-transportation funding bill has reached an important milepost, as the Senate passed  a two-year bill authorizing $109-billion for highway and transit programs. Approval came March 14 on a strong, bipartisan 74-22 vote, as 22 Republicans joined 52 Democrats to support the measure.

The focus quickly shifted to the House, where Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has had trouble finding votes to pass a five-year, $260-billion transportation-energy package that has made it through committee.

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), the bill's sponsor and floor manager, urged the House to pass the Senate measure. She said, "When you have a bill that gets 74 votes at a time when everything is so contentious...they ought to take a serious look at taking this bill up."

Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, said: "We are all working together toward coalescing around a longer-term approach with needed reforms. If we can't get there, we may have to take up something like the Senate bill —but we'd prefer to take the responsible approach on this and get a longer-term bill through the House."

The House's approach to the highway-transit bill could start to become clearer during the week of March 19, when it returns from a one-week recess. The clock is ticking: The latest in a series of stopgap authorizations is due to expire on March 31. Another short extension is possible, to keep road and transit funds flowing for a while.

The progress in the Senate was welcome news for construction industry companies weary of the 29-month delay in passing a long-term transportation bill. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said, "This is an important piece of legislation—not dealing with tens of jobs or hundreds of jobs or thousands of jobs but millions of jobs."

Construction industry officials would prefer a bill longer than two years but see the Senate bill as positive. Jay Hansen, National Asphalt Pavement Association executive vice president, says, "Getting some stability in this program would really be a good thing for this industry, at least through 2013. And then after that, we'll be back at it again—but we don't want to think about that right now."

Steve Hall, American Council of Engineering Companies vice president for government affairs, says the Senate bill's funding levels "are a very good start." Hall says the bill's sponsor, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), "has tried to push the funding envelope as far as she can. It doesn't go as far as we'd like, but nevertheless [the funding is] a good element of the bill."

Boxer said the Senate bill "doesn't go long enough. That, I'll admit. But we just didn't have the long-term funding source resolved." She added, "There is not one earmark in this bill. This is a reform bill. This is a compromise bill.  This is a fully paid-for bill."

Besides its $109 billion for grants, the measure also hikes federal subsidies for the existing Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan program for major projects to $1 billion a year, from $122 million now. That would support a much larger volume of federal loans, which in turn would be supplemented by non-federal funds.

Industry also likes Senate provisions to simplify the surface-transportation bureaucracy by trimming roughly 90 categories and programs to fewer than 30. The bill also would speed up project approvals by such actions as expediting environmental reviews.

The Senate bill's path wasn't easy. It moved to the floor on Feb. 7, but later that month Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) proposed an amendment to undo Obama administration policy on contraceptives. Reid and his allies blocked the plan March 1. But they faced a new hurdle when lawmakers insisted on offering a batch of other amendments, many of which had no link to roads or transit lines.

Reid solved that problem by cutting a deal on March 7 with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on which amendments could be offered.

The Senate ended up rejecting most of the 30 or so amendments on the list. One failed amendment sought to authorize construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline project. Another proposed to give the Environmental Protection Agency more time to issue new rules governing Maximum Achievable Control Technology to limit air emissions from boilers and solid-waste incinerators.

One construction-related rider that the Senate cleared would direct 80% of the penalties that could be levied against BP for the 2010 Gulf oil spill to restore the Gulf Coast economy and ecology. The amount for Gulf restoration could range from $4.3 billion to $16.9 billion."The current plan is to see what the Senate can produce and to bring their bill up."