Monday, September 27, 2010
This is the Tappan Zee
YES, it’s the Tappan Zee Bridge that was featured in a recent What is This?
Officially, it’s The Governor Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge, usually called the Tappan Zee Bridge, the Tappan Zee or The Tapp. This cantilever bridge spans the Hudson River in NY and connects Nyack in Rockland County with Tarrytown in Westchester County.
Its name derives from Indian and Dutch origins. In pre-colonial days, the Tappan Indian tribe inhabited the area. When the Dutch inhabited New York in the 1600’s, the Hudson River was called a “zee” or wide expanse of water.
The total length of the bridge and approaches is 16,013 feet. The cantilever span is 1,212 feet providing a maximum clearance of 138 feet over the water. The bridge is about 25 miles north of Midtown Manhattan and the NYC skyline can be seen on a clear day.
The bridge is part of the New York State Thruway mainline, designated as Interstates 87 and 287 and 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 done by a movable center barrier which is moved by a pair of barrier transfer machines. It is one of the primary means of crossing the Hudson River north of NYC and carries traffic between southern New England and points west of the Hudson.
Construction started in March 1952 and the bridge opened for traffic in December 1955. It was officially named the Tappan Zee Bridge in early 1956. In 1994, the bridge was re-dedicated in honor of Malcolm Wilson, NY governor in 1974 and 1975.
The structure carries more traffic than it was designed for which has led to plans to repair or replace it with a new bridge or tunnel. Its was designed to last 50 years when built during the Korean War (1950-53) at a time of material shortages and is showing signs of deterioration.
The Tappan Zee is notorious for attracting suicide jumpers. The 3-mile-long bridge has no walkway so that would-be suicides often drive to midspan, stop their cars in an outside lane, scale the barrier and jump. From 1998 to 2008, up of 30 people have committed suicide by jumping from the bridge.