The New York State Thruway Authority is withholding up to $1 million in project progress payments to Tappan Zee Constructors (TZC), the design-build team on the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement, due to several instances of construction barges becoming loose at the site.
“Until TZC delivers a contractually required corrective action plan that can be reviewed and approved” by its project team, the Thruway Authority will withhold the funds as allowed under contract, the agency said in a March 31 statement.
TZC—a joint venture of Fluor, American Bridge, Granite Construction Northeaset Inc. and Traylor Bros.—did not respond to calls for comment by press time.
The most recent incident occurred on March 30 when a barge broke loose from its mooring south of the existing Tappan Zee Bridge and traveled two miles before being secured in the main navigation channel off the Dobbs Ferry shoreline. No injuries or property damage were reported but the incident is under investigation, the Thruway Authority says.
“Safety is a number one priority on this project, and despite our repeated instructions to TZC to enhance mooring safety protocols, another barge broke loose on Sunday (March 30). This is unacceptable,” said Peter Sanderson, director of New NY Bridge, the formal name for TZB’s $3.9-billion replacement.
Two other incidents took place on Sept. 22, 2013 and on Jan. 3, 2014. The agency says that neither of these resulted in injuries or property damage but it ordered a comprehensive review of TZC’s safety, security and barge mooring methods after the events.
The investigation resulted in several safety enhancement recommendations that have been or are being put in place, the agency says. These include adding a GPS tracking system for TZC vessels and barges, which is currently being installed and tested. The system is expected to be fully operational by the end of this month.
The system will notify project safety and security teams if a marked vessel leaves the designated work zone and will include a map of the work zone for the boating public to view vessel locations on the project’s website.
Other recommendations include adding an adverse weather safety checklist, increasing marine security patrols; enhancing training for rigging crews; extending the U.S. Coast Guard Regulation Navigation area; and installing new safety buoys and markers in the river.
Work on the new two-span bridge—one of the largest bridge projects nationwide—began last October with installation of permanent piles. Completion is targeted for 2018. It is one of more than $10 billion worth of bridge projects under way in the metro New York area.
Meanwhile, work on the deck replacement of the Pulaski Skyway, which links Newark to Jersey City, is expected to start April 12 with completion in 2015, according to the N.J. Dept. of Transportation (NJDOT). The project is part of the bridge's $1-billion rehabilitation plan that includes repairs to its structural steel, concrete columns, ramps, piers and abutments and strengthening of the substructure components as part of a seismic retrofit.