Steel Shots: Big Blue

Ironworkers help install a massive steel girder assembly for the new Tappan Zee Bridge as it’s slowly lowered by the “I Lift NY” super crane. (Photo: New York State Thruway Authority)

Construction of New York’s new Tappan Zee Bridge has reached the halfway mark. The twin-span bridge’s eight towers are rising toward their ultimate height of more than 100 ft, and big blue steel is becoming more visible as workers continue to install about 130 steel girder assemblies over the Hudson River.

Smaller girder sections are being lifted into place and bolted together with cross beams that will support the new bridge’s concrete road deck, as well as infrastructure to carry communications, electrical power, water and compressed air for bridge operations. The “I Lift NY”super crane will continue placing larger girders, averaging two placements a week. A total of 31 miles of steel girders cumulatively weighing more than 100,000 tons will be installed for the new bridge.

High Steel Structures Inc. and Hirschfeld Industries (both AISC/NSBA Members and AISC Certified fabricators) are furnishing the approach span steel, while Canam-Bridges (an AISC/NSBA Member and AISC Certified fabricator) is fabricating the main span steel. As more steel continues to connect the concrete piers over the coming months, the new crossing’s final form will become increasingly recognizable. All construction is expected to take place above the river by the end of this year, and the first of the bridge’s two crossings is still on schedule to open to traffic in December of 2016, followed by the second span less than a year later.

For more on the Tappan Zee Bridge project, visit