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Tappan Zee Bridge demolition: 5 things to know

January 15, 2019

The Tappan Zee Bridge is no more.

Built in 1955, the bridge was replaced after a $4 billion Gov. Mario M. Cuomo replacement bridge was opened to the public last year.

For months, the husk of the old bridge remained in the water adjacent to the Cuomo Bridge. But Tuesday, explosives took the remaining structure down, leaving nothing but debris to clear in the water below.

Traffic on the New York State Thruway/I-87/I-287 will be halted from exit 9 exit 11 for about 45 minutes while controlled explosion is taking place and shortly thereafter.

Here are five things to know about the the Tappan Zee Bridge and its demolition:

1. The explosives were set precisely

The vertical support columns on the east side of the bridge will be destroyed, according to lohud.com.

The goal is to have the explosives placed at timed to force the bridge to fall east, out of the way of the main shipping channel and the new bridge structure.

2. Nets were set to catch the debris

As explosives broke the superstructure apart, nets in the water were placed to the debris did not contaminate the river.

“The old structure will fall into nets that are held up by buoys,” Piermont Police Chief Michael O’Shea told ABC. “The Hudson is deep. It’s a major shipping lane for all kinds of cargo. We want to keep everyone safe.”

3. It’s a huge spectator draw, despite safety concerns

Restaurants near the bridge offered a warm place for patrons to watch the demolition on TV, and spectators braved the cold as close as they could get, which wasn’t very close at all.

“Westchester County residents should not be alarmed by the plans for demolition, as the process is being handled in a careful, safe manner,” county Executive George Latimer said. “The U.S. Coast Guard has established a 2,500 foot safety radius around the site, and no residential areas are within that safety zone.”

4. Explosives were used because the bridge was not sound

Anyone who has travelled across the bridge in the last few months has seen what remained of the Tappan Zee sitting in the water next to the new bridge. Much of it was taken apart, piece by piece but what remained could not be detroyed that way.

Officials said what remained of the old bridge was structurally unsound, making a controlled explosion the safest method to remove what was left.

5. The whole bridge isn’t being blown up

Only the eastern portion of the bridge is being destroyed with explosives, according to lohud.com. The western side of the bridge is scheduled to be removed in the traditional way — piece by piece — by the end of 2019.

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