TARRYTOWN, N.Y. – The Tappan Zee Bridge was big news in 2012.
After more than a decade of public meetings and proposals, officials spent most of the year getting the latest bridge proposal through a fast-tracked approval process. State officials finalized plans for a new $3.1 billion bridge between Tarrytown and Nyack at the end of the year.
"This is a major milestone for a bridge project that was a metaphor for the dysfunction of government and is now a national model for progress," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.
The bridge received federal approval in September.
Construction on the new bridge is expected to begin in 2013, and the state has already reached a project labor agreement with 14 labor organizations. Crews began preliminary testing for the new bridge in February.
The new bridge will include two spans with eight lanes of traffic, breakdown shoulders and emergency lanes. There will be no mass-transit component when the bridge opens, although officials say the bridge will be “transit ready.”
In August, officials turned down the idea of keeping the old bridge and turning it into a park because it wasn't feasible. A pedestrian walkway will be available on the northern span.
The New York State Thruway Authority has said bus lanes will be in effect during rush hour. Cuomo's office also announced a mass-transit task force that will spend 2013 looking at potential systems for the I-87/I-287 corridor.
A Blue Ribbon selection committee, which featured artists and designers such as sculpter Jeff Koons and architect Richard Meier, spent several weeks considering three bids on the new bridge. The committee recommended a $3.1 billion bridge that was the cheapest to build and would take the least amount of time to construct.
The New York State Thruway Authority has yet to release a financial plan for the new bridge, but say they're working with the U.S. Department of Transportation on a federal loan to help pay for it.
Officials have said tolls will be used to help pay for the new bridge. The New York State Thruway Authority estimated in early August a $14 toll, with commuters paying $8.40 to cross the bridge. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said the proposed toll is too high.
See more top stories of 2012.