Hudson Valley Bridges: Crossings and Spans Over the Hudson River
Cross purposes: The Valley’s buzzing about the new TZB. But what about our other bridges?
Bridging the gap: Talk of a Tappan Zee makeover brings the five other upper Hudson crossings into focus
Photographs courtesy of New York State Bridge Authority
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For motorists who slam their steering wheels in disgust during daily traffic jams on the Tappan Zee Bridge, the recent reports that the state may — finally — replace it with a wider span probably come as joyous news.
Indeed, according to the $5 billion proposal — which is under discussion as we go to press — the current seven lanes will become 14 (spread out over twin spans), including a lane for pedestrians and cyclists, and exclusive rush-hour lanes for buses. But the project, which could break ground next spring, has also drawn loads of unwanted attention to the current bridge, a cantilever structure built in 1955 that was only expected to last 50 years, or until 2005.
In other words, a stressful ride may have just gotten more so knowing that the road under your wheels, at one of the river’s widest spots, is way past its prime. And because the new bridge won’t likely be completed until 2017, there will still be a lot of trips during which to ponder the issue.
So, how do the structures of the five Hudson River crossings north of the Tap compare?
Well, most are older than the Tappan Zee — although John Bellucci, chief of staff of the New York State Bridge Authority, says not to worry. While a brand-new bridge earns a seven out of seven on the federal safety rating, all the Hudson Valley bridges rate a very respectable five — the highest score an older structure can receive. “We’ve got it down to a science,” Bellucci said. “We can maintain them almost forever.”
The Bridge Authority has also taken aggressive steps in recent years to curb suicides. In 2007, phones connected to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline were installed along railings, near to signs that remind those in distress that “when it seems like there is no hope, there is help.” According to Bellucci, the phones have proven to be very effective in preventing potential jumpers.
Read on for more fun facts about your local bridges.