Westbound span of Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge opens

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  • Photos by Janie Rosman Gov. Andrew Cuomo addresses attendees during the opening of the westbound span of the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, formally called the Tappan Zee Bridge.

  • Looking eastward on the new span.

By Janie Rosman

— Nearly 62 years after he took an inaugural ride across the newly opened Tappan Zee Bridge with Gov. W. Averell Harriman, Sleepy Hollow resident and Bronze Star recipient Armando "Chick" Galella did it again.

Following the Aug. 24 ceremony making the opening of the replacement bridge’s westbound span, Galella and Gov. Andrew Cuomo drove toward the Westchester approach span of the new Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge in a pale yellow 1955 Corvette, the same model year Corvette as the one Galella rode in with Harriman.

One-quarter century after it opened the bridge on Dec. 15, 1955, opening, New York needed to counteract the congestion sparked by the new bridge. Companies moved their headquarters from New York City to office parks in the area, which subsequently led to clogged roads and traffic.

After more than 30 years of planning, more than 400 public meetings and $100 million spent on studies that included the option to build a tunnel, Cuomo signed design-build into law and secured the state’s plan to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge.

The first foundational steel piles were driven into the river bed in October 2013; pile cap installation began the following September.

Then came pier construction, after which the I Lift NY super crane — after traveling from California to be prepped for the project — lifted its first 600-ton precast pile cap.

Three years later (December 2016), the new bridge’s eight main span towers were topped off and its westbound span was connected to the Westchester and Rockland approach spans.

With paving completed, the new span opened to motorists in the wee hours of Aug. 26 after crews finished striping the lanes to guide motorists driving westbound on the New York State Thruway onto the new bridge.

Its LED lights were lavender the night it opened from its 2,700 color programmable lights that can be changed remotely. Those and its 500 white lights are from Philips Lighting, the same company that lights Madison Square Garden.

Eastbound traffic will shift to the westbound span this fall and will be separated from opposite-direction traffic by a concrete barrier.

The landings to the current bridge will be disconnected so the eastbound span can be completed and connected in Westchester and Rockland.

Eastbound traffic moves to its own span in fall 2018, at which time crews will begin work on the bicycle and walking path and its six viewing areas.

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