Structural Problems on Mario Cuomo Bridge Were Suppressed

NEW YORK -
Cuomo Tappan Zee
North- and south-bound crossing the completed span of the new Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge (R) last month, as construction continues on the other span (C). The old Tappan Zee Bridge, closed to traffic, is at left. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)

In her statement condemning Governor Andrew Cuomo, NY Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins condemned his alleged bullying, his coverup of the nursing home death toll, and “questions about the construction of a major infrastructure project.”

The project she was referring to was the $3.9 billion Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, where defective bolts  undermine the stability of the entire structure.

Meant to replace the Tappen Zee bridge along the Hudson river, whistleblowers involved in construction have warned the bridge is not safe, and many have the injuries to prove it, the Times Union reported.

As early as 2016, two years into construction, iron workers found themselves bludgeoned when bolts snapped and fell against them.

The bolts in the bridge kept snapping in the girders, even a year after they were installed. The bolts are welded into plates and hold the massive 1,250 girders that hold up the bridge together. Each girder, which weighs more than 100 tons, is connected by approximately 500 bolts.

In such a massive structure, even a handful of broken bolts can weaken the entire project and cause a horrific collapse.

In 2016, a safety manager secretly revealed to an inspector that the private company hired by the state, Tappan Zee Constructors, was knowingly concealing that the bolts were breaking, either due to manufacturing or installation flaws. The findings were turned over to the attorney general’s office in 2018, but whatever the office’s investigation uncovered was never revealed to the public.

The bridge was open to the public in 2018.

Tappan Zee Constructors have been ordered to pay a $2 million settlement, but there is no indication that all of the defective bolts have been properly replaced. A 2017 report commissioned by the Thruway Authority warned that as many as half the bridge’s bolts are at risk of breaking.

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smarcus@hamodia.com