For more than 60 years, the original Tappan Zee Bridge served as a connector over a New York waterway, and now parts of the still-being-demolished structure are heading under the surface to become part of an artificial reef off Long Island.
Starting this week, concrete and steel from the original Tappan Zee Bridge will be dispersed via barge between six artificial reefs off the coast of Long Island, The New York Times reported, and around 30 other barges will follow through early fall.
The old Tappan Zee will be sunk alongside decommissioned vessels from the Erie Canal and other upstate waterways as well as scrap materials from other transportation projects across the state.
State officials told the Times that all the materials that will be used for the artificial reefs will be cleaned before they are put underwater. The cost to transport the materials to the reefs is estimated to be around $5 million, which is being covered by Tappan Zee Constructors, the private firm that built the new span, as well as the New York State Power Authority.
The move to recycle the former bridge expands a state-mandated artificial reef program that maintains 12 such reefs across the state; there are two in Long Island Sound, eight in the Atlantic Ocean and two in Great South Bay between Fire Island and Long Island.
Other portions of the original Tappan Zee Bridge will be sent to scrap yards and recycling centers, while some materials have been repurposed for infrastructure projects by counties and the state’s Department of Transportation.
The Tappan Zee Bridge stood over the Hudson River from December 1955 to October 2017, when it was replaced by the new, $4 billion span also called the Tappan Zee Bridge and subsequently began being dismantled. At three-miles long, the new structure remains the longest bridge in New York state.
It is officially named Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge after the former governor, who served three terms in office from 1983 to 1994. Cuomo, the father of current Gov. Andrew Cuomo, died in 2015.