Saturday’s planned opening of the second span of the new Mario M. Cuomo Bridge over the Hudson River was delayed after a piece of the bridge it is replacing became destabilized and threatened to fall, officials said.
Matthew Driscoll, the executive director of the New York State Thruway Authority, said “a potentially dangerous situation” developed Friday when a piece of the old Tappan Zee Bridge became destabilized during the process of being disassembled.
He said the opening of the eastbound span of the new bridge, named after former New York governor Mario Cuomo, would be delayed “out of an abundance of caution.”
The issue arose hours after Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the late former governor’s son, held a grand opening ceremony for the new bridge span. Joined by onetime Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Cuomo said Friday that the new bridge “shows the world that we’re capable of dreaming big and delivering results for the people of this state.”
Cuomo’s rivals suggested that he had opened the new span prematurely to garner positive coverage ahead of Thursday’s primary election.
“A ribbon-cutting ceremony should not have been held if the bridge span was not yet safe,” Cuomo’s primary opponent, actress Cynthia Nixon, said in a statement Saturday. “There are real, reasonable questions about whether this bridge span opening was accelerated to aid the governor’s campaign.”
Republican Marc Molinaro, who will face the Democratic primary winner in the November general election, said, “It’s now clearer than ever that the bridge was opened to meet Governor Cuomo’s political timetable without regard to public safety.”
Speaking to reporters at a Labor Day parade in Manhattan, Cuomo said the bridge opening was delayed for fear that the unstable piece of the Tappan Zee Bridge could fall and hit the new bridge.
“We want to move the traffic over as quickly as possible,” Cuomo said. “The new bridge is ready.”
The nearly $4 billion Cuomo bridge links Westchester and Rockland counties 30 miles (48 kilometers) north of New York City. The old Tappan Zee Bridge, which opened in 1955, is in the process of being demolished.
The first span of new bridge opened last year and currently carries Interstate 87′s eastbound and westbound traffic. Eastbound traffic was to be fully shifted to the second span Saturday morning.