WPCNR TAPPAN ZEE BRIDGE NEWS. By John F. Bailey. June 20, 2013:
The New York State Thruway is standing behind its selection of Tappan Zee Constructors as the contractor on the new Tappan Zee Bridge, despite documented failures described as “catastrophic” by a California Metropolitan Transportation Authority Official in earthquake-resistant supports installed on the new Oakland Bay Bridge in San Francisco three months before that $6.3 Billion bridge is supposed to open Labor Day.
The New York State Thruway confidence is bolstered by the safeguards built into the New York State contract with American Bridge Company and Fluor Corporation.
The issue surfaced in the face of “catastrophic” failures of one third of the first 96 seismic-resistant bolts being relied on to make the new Oakland Bay Bridge earthquake-safer. The California Department of Transportation (acronym CALTRANS) is investigating the cause of the failures of remaining 2,200 30 foot long bolts, after 32 of 96 bolts snapped upon tightening three months ago.
Governor Andrew Cuomo whose efforts to get the replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge going after a decade of trying, have produced a decision on a design, and selected American Bridge Company (Pennsylvania) and Fluor Corporation (Dallas) to build a new Tappan Zee Bridge for $3.9 Billion by 2018 has not issued a statement on the problems with the new Bay Bridge.
CALTRANS is attempting to cope with a shattering of public confidence in the bridge and a blistering media assault on the process that CALTRANS is encountering with the almost-ready-to-open Bay Bridge. A prestigious fund-raiser tied to the Labor Day opening has already been postponed while tests on the approximately 2,200 remaining suspect bolts ( key components of the new bridge mission to be more resistant to earthquakes). Meanwhile, supportive saddles are being installed on the already-failed bolts in place, which cannot be exchanged out. A decision on whether to open the bridge as planned is expected July 10.
The Thruway issued to WPCNR responses to a series of questions said the New NY Bridge and the new Bay Bridge are “very different designs.” The Thruway said there are no plans to use steel bolts or anything on the New New York Bridge from Dyson Corporation of Ohio that supplied the allegedly defective bolts
The communication said that on possible delays and cost overruns, the new New York design-build law shifts the risk for most delays and cost overruns from New York to the contractor “not taxpayers or tallpayers.”
The Thruway noted to WPCNR that HNTB, the firm hired as “Owners Engineer” on the New New York Bridge Project will be doing “rigorous quality control on all aspects of the design and material that will be used, including inspecting steel fabricating facilities.”
The Thruway did not respond yet to WPCNR’s question whether the 12-member Blue Ribbon Selection Committee had talked with CALTRANS to evaluate American Bridge and Fluor Corporation performance through the seven years the new Oakland Bay Bridge, or was aware of the bolt problem that has been known about since 2007-08 as indicated by CALTRANS public documents, and American Bridge Company and Fluor response to the defects found and acknowledged publicly by CALTRANS.
The Thruway also did not respond to the question of whether new test borings recently ordered are routine or to make certain of past findings.