Obama Administration's Fast-Tracked Project Expected To Be Done In 5 Years

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Work is underway on the Hudson River between Nyack and Tarrytown.

Contractors for the New York State Thruway are busy charting the path of the new Tappan Zee Bridge.

CBS 2’s Lou Young got a special up-close look Thursday at the historic milestone.

You may have seen it on your way to work: the view from the bridge, revealing the first hint of what may soon replace it.

When you drive by on the old Tappan Zee Bridge and see the barges out on the water you’re looking at the new bridge taking shape and the remarkable thing is work has begun even though the contract hasn’t been let yet. They don’t know precisely how much it’s going to cost, or exactly what it’ll look like when it’s finished.

“You’re starting to see the next milestone take place. The project’s starting to take shape now,” said the Thruway Authority’s Tom McGuiness.

It’s the kind of public works juggernaut New York hasn’t see in decades. Four potential bidders are preparing designs and one of them will get the job in July, costing maybe $5 billion, maybe more.

Federal money and a promise of streamlined red tape has the state out taking test borings from the river bottom from now until April to finalize the bridge specs, digging deep into the river bottom.

“The mud below that goes down close to a hundred feet, then there’s sand, then there’s stiffer clay, then glacial till, then bedrock,” consulting engineer Tom Conale said.

Officials want the bridge to sit on solid rock, unlike the old bridge, which is now obsolete at the age of 57.

“The next bridge to cross the Hudson at this point will be designed for a hundred years,” project executive director Tom Madison said.

Opponents have called for more review and inclusion of mass transit, but the Obama administration’s decision to fast-track has made it impossible for them to slow the rush to construct. The engineers chose to shepherd the project said this time there will be no false starts.

“It’s a 3-mile long bridge, the longest in New York State. When you’re in engineering school this is the type of project you dream about,” engineer Krastina Edwards said.

The current plan is to have the new Tappan Zee Bridge up and running five years from now.

After the new bridge is open, some have suggested turning the old Tappan Zee into a hi-line style park over the Hudson. Governor Andrew Cuomo said he’s intrigued, but it’s far from a done deal.

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