Governor Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge, almost
always referred to as the Tappan Zee Bridge, or
simply the Tappan Zee, is a cantilever bridge in New York over the
Hudson River at one of its widest
points, the Tappan Zee, named for an
Indian tribe from the area called the "Tappan" (zee
being the Dutch word for
"sea"). It connects Nyack in Rockland
County with Tarrytown in Westchester County and is the only highway crossing of the Hudson
between the Newburgh-Beacon
Bridge, over which the eastern Interstate 84 traverses, and the
Washington Bridge (Interstate
Construction started in March 1952 and it opened for traffic on
December 15, 1955. The total length of the bridge and approaches is
(just over 3 miles
, 4.881 km
cantilever span is 1,212 feet (369.42 meters
providing a maximum clearance of 138 feet (42 m) over the water.
The bridge is about north of Midtown
; the Manhattan skyline can be seen from the bridge on
a clear day.
The bridge is part of the New
York State Thruway
mainline, and also designated as Interstate 87
and Interstate 287
. The span carries seven lanes
of automotive traffic. The center lane can be switched between
eastbound and westbound traffic depending on the prevalent commuter
direction; on weekdays, the center lane is eastbound in the morning
and westbound in the evening. The switch is accomplished via a
which is moved by a pair of barrier transfer machines
with the switchable lane, traffic is frequently very slow.
is one of the primary means of crossing the Hudson River north of
New York City; it carries much of the traffic between southern
England and points west of the Hudson.
In 1994, the name of Malcolm
was added to the bridge's name upon the 20th anniversary
of his leaving the Governor of New
's office in December 1974, though it is almost never used
when the bridge is spoken about colloquially.
, each eastbound passenger car pays a toll of $5.00 cash, or $4.75 via E-ZPass.
the Tappan Zee Bridge was featured on The History Channel "The Crumbling of
America" showing the infrastructure
crisis in the United
History and construction
increasing demands for commuter travel taxing the existing bridges
and tunnels, the Port of New York
Authority had plans in 1950 to construct a bridge across the
Hudson near Dobbs
The proposal was overridden by Governor of New York Thomas E. Dewey
, who wanted to construct a bridge to
connect the New York State
across Westchester to the New England Thruway
. The Port Authority
promised its bondholders that it would not allow any other entity
to construct a river crossing within its jurisdiction, which
reached to a point one mile (1.6 km) south of Nyack and across to Piermont. A May 10, 1950 editorial in The New York Times suggested that a
site in southern Dobbs Ferry or northern Hastings-on-Hudson, where the Hudson narrowed considerably from its
three-mile (5 km) width at Tappan Zee, would be a more
appropriate site, and suggested that Governor Dewey work with his
counterpart, Governor of New
Jersey Alfred E.
, to craft a compromise
that would offer Thruway customers a discounted bridge fare at a
more southerly crossing. Two days later, Governor Dewey announced
that the Port Authority had dropped its plans to construct a bridge
of its own. The location would be as close to the Tarrytown-Nyack
line just outside the Port Authority's jurisdiction. Dewey stated
that World War II
would be used in the bridge's construction.
The site of the bridge, at the Hudson River's second-widest point,
added to construction costs. The site was chosen to be as close as
possible to New York City, while staying out of the range of the
Port Authority's sphere of influence. A unique aspect about the
design of the bridge is that the main span is supported by eight
hollow concrete caissons
Their buoyancy supports some of the loads and helped to reduce
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. 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
designed to last only 50 years. The collapse of the I-35W
Mississippi River bridge in Minnesota on August 1, 2007 has renewed concerns about the
bridge's structural integrity.
(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
County is limited, and the MTA is studying expansion
possibilities in Rockland County that would use the new bridge to
connect with the Hudson
Line on the east side of the bridge along the Hudson River for direct service into
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.
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 Metro-North station in Suffern and across the bridge,
connecting with Metro-North’s Hudson Line south of Tarrytown, would cost another $6.7 billion.
is being reviewed for environmental impact.
From 1998 to 2008, more than 25 people committed suicide on the
Tappan Zee Bridge, according to the New York State Thruway
. On August 31, 2007, NYSTA officials added
four phones – two each on the Rockland and Westchester sides – that connect callers via the Lifeline suicide prevention hotline to counselors
at LifeNet or Covenant House.
Signs reading "Life is Worth Living" and "When it seems like there
is no hope, there is help" have been placed on the bridge.
- Melvin, Tessa. "If You're Thinking of Living In/Tarrytown; Rich
History, Picturesque River Setting", The New York
Times, August 21, 1994. Accessed December 30, 2007. "The
Dutch called this point, the river's widest, the Tappan Zee --
Tappan probably for a group of Indians and Zee meaning "sea" in
- Mario Just Might Be Easier, New York Times,
January 13, 1994.
- Ingraham, Joseph C. "PORT BRIDGE PLAN BLOCKED BY DEWEY; Peril to
Thruway Is Seen in Project at Dobbs Ferry for Link With Jersey
Roads PORT BRIDGE PLAN BLOCKED BY DEWEY Brings Conflict Into Open
Little Conflict Is Seen Tests Made 14 Years Ago",
The New York Times, May 7, 1950.
Accessed July 18, 2008.
- "THAT THRUWAY BRIDGE", The New York
Times, May 10, 1950. Accessed July 18, 2008.
- Ingraham, Joseph C. "PORT BODY GIVES IN ON THRUWAY SPAN; Accedes to
Dewey's Orders and Will Let the Bridge Be Built Wherever His
Engineers Say GOVERNOR HINTS SECRET Implies War-Born Construction
Idea Will Be Used and Says All Will Be Known Soon All Clear in 60
Days Spur to East Planned", [The New York
Times, May 12, 1950. Accessed July 18, 2008.
- Brenner, Elsa. "Future of Bridge Stirs Bicounty Cooperation",
The New York Times, April 20, 2000,
Accessed July 18, 2008. "The site was selected to be as close to
New York City as possible while escaping the 25-mile jurisdiction
of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which apparently
opposed the bridge because it would compete with the authority's
- Chen, David W. " Ideas & Trends: A Bridge Too Long; The Cost
of Urban Sprawl: Unplanned Obsolescence", The New York
Times, January 30, 2000. Accessed July 18, 2008. "And
because it is so long -- built at the Hudson's widest point to
escape the 25-mile jurisdiction of the Port Authority of New York
and New Jersey -- it is unusually expensive to maintain, repair
and, if necessary, replace."
- A Bridge That Has Nowhere Left to Go, New York Times,
January 17, 2006.
- "Tappan Zee Bridge has received 'poor'
ratings", Poughkeepsie Journal, August 3,
2007. Accessed August 9, 2008.
- State to Replace, Not Rebuild, Tappan Zee
Bridge, New York Times, Sept. 26, 2008.
- Struggling to Prevent Suicides at Tappan Zee,
New York Times, May 11, 2008.
The Tappan Zee Bridge as seen from a
train on the eastern shore of the Hudson River.