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.