Crane collapse only latest controversy at Tappan Zee Bridge

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TARRYTOWN, N.Y. — The Tappan Zee Bridge, scene of a crane collapse on Tuesday that injured five people,  was opened to traffic in 1955 and connects Tarrytown in Westchester County with South Nyack in Rockland County.

In recent years, however, the bridge, which will soon be dismantled, has had its shares of troubles as its replacement is constructed just north of it.

The new Tappan Zee Bridge has been under construction since 2013, and is about two years away from opening. But the construction has spawned its share of problems.

This spring, a tugboat crashed into a barge that was part of the new construction project and sank into the Hudson River, killing three workers on the tugboat.

In 2013, a bride-to-be and her groom’s best man were both killed when the driver of a boat smashed head-on into a barge near the bridge. The driver was charged with vehicular manslaughter and vehicular assault.

Several years ago, the bridge was the subject of financial controversy when Governor Andrew Cuomo announced plans to borrow $511 million in loans from a clean water fund in order to help pay for renovations to the bridge. Environmental groups said it would be an inappropriate use of funds that were intended for costs associated with drinking water, sewage and other water projects.

Earlier this year, Cuomo announced that he wanted to dedicate $700 million from legal settlements with financial institutions in order to help pay for construction of the new Tappan Zee Bridge.

The final cost of construction is $3.98 billion, according to New York State government.

The existing Tappan Zee was built to last only 50 years — the new bridge should last more than twice as long without the need for major maintenance. That’s a big change from the current bridge, which requires constant and costly maintenance.

The new bridge will have eight lanes, four breakdown/emergency lanes, a state-of-the-art traffic monitoring system and a bike and pedestrian path.