Thruway Withholds $1M A MONTH IN Payments to Tap Zee Contractors on account of Barge

WPCNR TAPPAN ZEE NEWS. From the NYSTA. March 31, 2014:

The New York State Thruway Authority today announced it is withholding up to $1 million per month in project progress payments to Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC (TZC) due to a series of incidents involving construction barges becoming loose from their moorings at the New NY Bridge construction site.

The decision comes on top of recent boater safety enhancements announced for the Hudson River near the construction zone, including the Thruway Authority’s direction to TZC to install a GPS tracking system on its barges, crew boats and other vessels. The GPS tracking system is currently being installed and tested with the goal of having it fully operational by the end of April.

“Safety is the number one priority on this project, and despite our repeated instructions to TZC to enhance mooring safety protocols, another barge broke loose on Sunday. This is unacceptable,” said New NY Bridge Project Director Peter Sanderson. “Until TZC delivers a contractually required corrective action plan that can be reviewed and approved by our project team, we are going to withhold up to $1 million per month in project progress payments, as allowed under the contract.”

The most recent incident occurred on Sunday, March 30, at approximately 3:45 p.m., when a TZC barge broke loose from its mooring south of the existing Tappan Zee Bridge. The barge traveled approximately two miles before being secured in the main navigation channel off the Dobbs Ferry shoreline.  No injuries or property damage were reported.  A full investigation into the cause of the incident is now underway.

On Sept. 22, 2013, a TZC barge broke free from its mooring and traveled approximately one mile before being secured. No injuries or property damage were reported during this incident.

On Jan. 3, two TZC subcontractor barges broke free during a strong winter storm. One traveled several miles before being secured; the other was recovered near Spuyten Duyvil in the Bronx. No injuries or property damage were reported during this incident.

In response to the September and January incidents, the Thruway Authority ordered a comprehensive review of TZC’s safety, security and barge mooring methods.  Several safety enhancements were recommended and have been or are being put into place, including:

  • GPS tracking for TZC vessels and barges
  • New TZC adverse weather safety checklist
  • Increased TZC Marine Security Patrols
  • Enhanced training for TZC rigging crews
  • Extended U.S. Coast Guard Regulated Navigation Area (RNA)
  • “Slow, No Wake Speed Zone” in RNA
  • Proposed U.S. Coast Guard safety zone
  • New safety buoys and markers to be installed in river

The GPS tracking system will include electronic devices on TZC vessels and an “electronic security geo-fence” so that if a marked vessel leaves the designated work zone, the project safety and security teams will be notified immediately.  Although not intended to be used for navigational purposes, the system will also include a map of the work zone so that the boating public will be able to view vessel locations on the New NY Bridge website, www.NewNYBridge.com, where they can also find U.S. Coast Guard Notice to Mariners safety information, maps and more.

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