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New York’s largest new bridge in more than 50 years opens on Saturday

Written by
Clayton Guse

Nothing gets Governor Andrew Cuomo revved up quite like a shiny new bridge. At a press event for the new Kosciuszko Bridge back in April, he took a ceremonial first drive over the new span in a 1932 Packard that once belonged to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. On Thursday, the governor held a similar event to celebrate the unveiling of the first span of the new Tappan Zee Bridge, which will open to traffic on Saturday morning.

Cuomo took another ceremonial drive, this time in a 1955 Corvette, a nod to the year in which the original bridge debuted. The $4 billion project has been under construction for four years after a planning process that lasted decades. The new westbound span will connect Westchester and Rockland County over the Hudson River, and the second eastbound span is scheduled to open before the end of 2018.

Unlike the clunky Tappan Zee of yore, the new structure is actually something worth looking at. The cable-stayed design includes dozens of pillars towering 40 stories into the sky and spans 3.1 miles across the river. It’s the largest bridge to be built in the state since the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge debuted in 1964. 

The bridge, which Cuomo named after his father and former governor Mario M. Cuomo, took roughly 7,000 people to build and (somehow) came in under budget. While its completion is a major accomplishment, ribbon-cutting events at new bridges are about the only positive infrastructure news that have come out of the governor's office this year. With a summer of hell at Penn Station and a crumbling subway system, it’s hard to muster the same excitement that Cuomo has when he drives a vintage Corvette over the Hudson.

“Great accomplishments don’t just happen,” Cuomo said at the bridge’s opening. “They take a rare combination of talent, time, commitment, blood, sweat and tears by a large group of people. This bridge actually will cost about $1 billion less than our estimate, and it was built in about five years.”

If only such a “rare combination” were applied to New York City’s subway system. But hey, at least the governor’s office whipped out a drone to give us some sick aerial shots of the bridge:

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