The eastern anchor span of New York’s Tappan Zee Bridge dropped into the Hudson River Tuesday with an explosive demolition, soon to clear the way for mariners to navigate without restrictions.

The controlled drop was executed at 10:52 a.m., when charges blew out the supports and the 672’ bridge deck and superstructure fell to the river bed, on the eastern side of the navigation channel.

Steel netting set out on the bottom beforehand will enable a complete cleanup, as remains of the bridge in service from 1955 to 2017 are dissected and removed by barge, according the New York State Thruway Authority. Replaced by the 3.1-mile, $4 billion Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, the old span’s concrete and steel is being recycled or used on artificial fishing reefs off Long Island.

Demolition work had been proceeding after the old bridge closed. But in September 2018 workers heard popping sounds on the still-standing eastern anchor span, and engineers determined the structure was unsafe to continue with piecemeal removal.

The New York State Thruway Authority and bridge building consortium Tappan Zee Constructors decided the safest removal would be by explosives. The midwinter operation was planned for a time when it would have minimal environmental impact, particularly on the endangered Hudson River population of Atlantic sturgeon.

Contributing Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.