Congressman Urges Safety Probe of Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge

Congressman Urges Safety Probe of Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge

A Democratic member of Congress has joined calls for a federal probe into safety concerns regarding construction of the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge in New York.

Rep. Mondaire Jones on Monday wrote to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to urge an investigation into potential structural deficiencies on the bridge that connects Rockland and Westchester counties, in an area he represents about 25 miles north of New York City.

Dozens of Republicans in the New York State Assembly last week called on the federal Transportation Department to ensure the 3.1-mile-long, twin-span bridge is safe.

Representatives for the federal Transportation Department didn’t immediately provide comment.

The calls for an investigation follow a report in the Albany Times Union alleging that dozens of bolts used to build the successor to the Tappan Zee Bridge over the Hudson River were defective.

The bridge is owned and operated by the New York State Thruway Authority, a 570-mile system that links the Hudson Valley with Albany and Buffalo.

Jamey Barbas,

the authority’s project director for the new bridge, said Monday that during an early stage of the bridge’s construction, around 2016, a small number of bolts were found to be defective or were overtightened by construction workers, leading to their failure. Ms. Barbas said the issue was resolved years ago and that subsequent inspections found the bridge to be safe.

Ms. Barbas said a federally mandated inspection last year found one broken bolt and one missing bolt out of a potential 500,000 bolts on the bridge’s westbound span.

The consortium that built the bridge, Tappan Zee Constructors LLC, said in a written statement: “TZC unequivocally stands by the quality of our work and the safety of the bridge.”

A spokeswoman for the New York state inspector general, Letizia Tagliafierro, said last week that the office and the New York state attorney general’s office had investigated issues regarding the bolts. Ms. Tagliafierro said the results of her office’s probe were sealed pending a related legal action. Representatives for the attorney general’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The controversy comes as

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

—a Democrat who renamed the bridge after his father, a former governor of New York—faces scandals regarding allegations of inappropriate behavior toward female aides and criticism over the state’s handling of nursing homes during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr. Cuomo has said he never inappropriately touched anybody. His administration has defended its handling of nursing homes.

When the $4 billion Cuomo bridge opened in 2018, Mr. Cuomo hailed it as an example of government completing projects on time and on budget. Tappan Zee Constructors filed suit against the Thruway Authority in February, claiming interference by the authority caused delays and additional expenses. The suit seeks almost $1 billion, plus interest.

Write to Paul Berger at Paul.Berger@wsj.com

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Appeared in the March 16, 2021, print edition as ‘N.Y. Congressman Urges Safety Probe of Bridge.’

Source: WSJ – US News

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