With their Aug. 24 deadline approaching to open the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge's second span, Tappan Zee Constructors expressed reservations that workers would complete the job on time, and the company even was tentative in committing to a new date of Sept. 7.© Mark Vergari/The Journal News Rockland-bound traffic, left, and eastbound traffic move steadily along the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, on Sept. 12, 2018.
In a letter dated July 20 obtained by The Journal News/lohud, Project Executive and Manager Terry Towle pushed back against Thruway Authority Project Director Jamey Barbas' directive from a letter two days prior that the Rockland-to-Westchester-span be done by Aug. 24. Towle expressed concern the rush could "increase project risk" and leave "significant uncompleted work" and wrote that he did not recommend the change.
"While August 24th is not practical, TZC's preliminary review suggest the changes may allow for placement of traffic by September 7, 2018," Towle wrote, stipulating that a slew of changes would have to be made to the work schedule to even meet that date.
The two letters shed light on how the opening of the bridge's second span came to be set for Friday, Sept. 7, TZ Constructors' concerns and the implications for the project.
The political impact
On Sept. 7, Westchester-bound traffic was supposed to be split off the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge's westbound span and onto its own span. At 5 p.m. that afternoon, and hours after a grand opening event featuring Hillary Clinton and Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1932 Packard convertible, workers heard a loud noise from the old Tappan Zee Bridge, later identified as a popped joint.
The traffic split started off as planned at 8 p.m., but was called off over concerns the old Tappan Zee Bridge could collapse. Instead, the traffic shift happened four days later, Tuesday night, Sept. 11, into Wednesday morning.
The postponement set off a political controversy for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, with many accusing the governor of wanting to open the bridge on Sept. 7 for publicity ahead of the Democratic gubernatorial primary he won handily less than a week later.
Both Cuomo's office and the Thruway Authority denied those claims and blamed Tappan Zee Constructors for holding up the project.
"TZC had a contractual obligation set more than a year ago to finish the second span by Aug 24," Thruway Authority Acting Executive Director Matthew Driscoll said in a statement. "TZC stated they were unable to meet that contractual date — despite offers of help from the Thruway Authority — and instead they proposed the September 7th opening date. The contractors will be legally responsible for not meeting the original contract date.”
Barbas, speaking with the Journal News/lohud Sept. 11, said the contractor was initially given an Aug. 15 deadline, but bad weather prompted her to extend the deadline to Aug. 24. In the letter she said the state would pick up overtime cost and the cost of damage to equipment.
However, in Towle's letter, he said the Thruway's monetary offer was "purposely vague."
Further, Towle said the request could delay the rest of the project, which includes building the walking and biking path and dismantling the rest of the old bridge.
He also wrote that the request to have the second span finished within the next seven weeks would add significant costs that the Thruway must fund "in addition to NYSTA's other past due obligations."© Tania Savayan/The Journal News F-16 Fighting Falcons of the Air Force's Thunderbirds fly north over the Mario M. Cuomo and Tappan Zee Bridges near Tarrytown Sept. 17, 2018. Eight F-16 Fighting Falcons flew south over the Hudson River from Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, circled the Statue of Liberty and returned to Stewart.
In order for the project to be completely finished, the old bridge has to be fully dismantled.
Work above the water line should be finished by the end of the year, with the remains of the main span to be taken apart in two operations, one in October and one in late December.
Work below the water line likely will not be finished until well into 2019, officials have said.
Journal News/lohud reporter Jorge Fitz-Gibbon contributed to this report.
Source : https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/tappan-zee-constructors-concerned-over-second-gov-mario-cuomo-bridge-span-opening-date/ar-AAACljU