Part Of Old Tappan Zee Bridge Comes Down With A Bang

January 15, 2019 - 10:14 am

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. (WCBS 880) — With a boom and a crash, the eastern tower of the rusty old Tappan Zee Bridge came down in the blink of an eye in a controlled explosion Tuesday morning.

Tappan Zee Constructors, the group that built the new Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, strategically placed explosive charges at key locations on the four steel legs of the structure, WCBS 880's Sean Adams reported.

PHOTOS: Old Tappan Zee Bridge Razed With A Blast

Tappan Zee Bridge
Tania Savayan/The Journal News

Cables were also attached to the 6,500-ton section of the bridge to help guide it to fall to the east, away from the main channel of the Hudson River. Chains were also placed in the river to corral the falling steel and help fish out the debris in the weeks to come.

The explosive charges roared like a cannon, echoing through the Hudson Valley just before 11 a.m., Adams reported. The shockwave pierced the chest and bright orange flames spewed out from the underbelly of the structure, followed by thick black smoke. The rusting steel hulk then dropped straight into the Hudson River.

As the smoke cleared, the steel bones could be seen sticking out of the water.

People who gathered along both sides of the river to witness the spectacle had a blast.

"It felt like I was vibrating off the floor," one man said. 

"We felt it rumble, the shake. It was definitely worth being here even though it was absolutely freezing," another man said.

"I wanted to see the old girl go down," said Jim Quinlin who made the trip from Vermont, where he retierd. "It was earth shattering, it was very moving."

"It had tremendous thrust, the power of it was unbelievable. It really kicked me in the chest like a big bass drum. It was definitely a physical experience, not just visual. You really felt it in your bones," said spectator Pasquale Albert.

Traffic on the New York State Thruway was closed between exits 9 and 11 in both directions for about an hour before reopening shortly after 11 a.m.

On the water, the U.S. Coast Guard established a 2,500-foot radius and all water traffic was shut for several hours.

The western anchor of the old bridge still stands and will be dismantled piece by piece at a later date.