New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced last week that the first of two new 3.1-mile spans, part of the $4 billion Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project, will open Aug. 25, according to CBS New York.
By the end of this year, eastbound and westbound traffic will share the same span until the second one is ready in 2018. The new bridge, which will be named after the late former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, will have breakdown and emergency lanes, bus lanes and a pedestrian and bike path.
The bridge's toll fees would remain the same until 2020, at which point they will increase. Cuomo said, according to NYup.com, that revenue from the entire New York State Thruway system would help pay for the project in the meantime.
Cuomo and other design-build advocates have called the Tappan Zee project an example of how the delivery method can shorten a schedule and bring a project to completion without budget overruns. This was in spite of a few obstacles like a squabble over what class of union workers had to be employed on the project and a crane collapse during pile-driving operations.
Yet that argument hasn't won over state lawmakers for projects in New York City. Some projects in the city have been authorized for design-build — such as the $3 billion Pennsylvania Station rehab and the $1 billion Jacob K. Javits Convention Center overhaul — but those have an element of state funding, so planners were able to sidestep the ban.
Critics have said they're concerned that design-build is not compatible with the trade union project labor agreements common in New York City, and others have argued that city engineers' jobs could be in jeopardy if design-build becomes the norm.
Many New York City officials, including the commissioner of the city's Department of Transportation, are adamant that being able to use design-build would save them money and fast-track critical projects. However, pleas to legislators to permit several bridge projects to move forward under the alternative method have been largely ignored. The New York state legislative session closed earlier this month without passing the necessary measure.