Omaha-based HDR wins bid to design replacement New York bridge

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Posted: Thursday, February 28, 2013 12:00 am

Omaha-based HDR is designing the replacement for New York's Tappan Zee bridge — a signature three-mile crossing over the Hudson River that is to be the widest bridge of that length in the world.

The $3.14 billion contract is huge for HDR and its partners. HDR is lead designer and a subcontractor for Tappan Zee Constructors, the winning bid consortium that also includes Fluor Enterprises, American Bridge Co., Granite Construction Northeast and Traylor Bros.

“The Tappan Zee Hudson River Crossing is an iconic project, and HDR is very proud to be part of the team,” said HDR Chairman and CEO George A. Little.

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New York officials call the long-awaited replacement to be used by nearly 140,000 motorists daily “more than just a bridge across the Hudson.”

“The new New York State bridge will be a signature landmark portraying the beauty and strength of New York state while supporting the economy and growth of the Hudson Valley for generations to come,” says the state's website.

Designed to last 100 years, the new bridge is the largest transportation design-build project to date in the United States and one of the largest construction contracts in New York history, according to a state press release.

The Tappan Zee Constructors plan addresses major concerns of the aging bridge that had a high accident rate, lengthy traffic jams and complete lack of mass transit capability. Among key features:

» Twin spans with a total of eight general traffic lanes, plus emergency lanes and extra-wide shoulders for immediate bus service when opened.

» Unique towers that tilt outward for additional strength and also eliminate the need for cross beams.

» A first-ever dedicated bicycle and pedestrian path with safe, scenic spots and cultural information about the region's heritage, as well as capability for bus rapid transit, light rail or commuter rail.

» A new night light display with potentially changing patterns.

Under the design-build process, engineering and construction firms join forces to compete for a single contract that covers both design and construction. Bids are selected based on best value.

The new bridge, to be built just north of the current one, is expected to begin this year and be completed in five.

Officials first announced plans to replace the aging bridge in 1999, and the design-build contract was approved recently by the New York State Thruway Board of Directors.

The current Tappen Zee, opened in 1955, is about 25 miles north of midtown Manhattan and is one of the primary crossings of the Hudson River north of New York City. (Tappan is the name of an American Indian Tribe from the area called “Tappan,” and “Zee” is the Dutch word for sea.)

As lead designer of the new bridge, HDR — which has a New York office as well as a global reach and 8,000 professional employees — is responsible for overall design project management, overall quality control including peer review and independent design check process, detailed design elements including deep foundations, main span and approach span structures, highway elements including alignments, tolling and ITS, utilities and facility design.

The consortium of which HDR is a part offered the lowest cost and shortest construction time among three bidders. It will use a “Left Coast Lifter,” one of the world's largest floating cranes, for the project, cutting construction time.

Contact the writer: 402-444-1224,

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