Is the Tappan Zee Bridge "Too Big to Fall"?

The alarming story told by Barry B. LePatner in his new book, Too Big to Fall, is making the rounds. In a recent article in the New York Post, LePatner gave an interview that resulted in a full page article entitled “Bridge of Size: Tappan Zee, like many other US bridges, is falling down.”

The article uses the story of the quite perilous state of the Tappan Zee Bridge, over which 140,000 vehicles cross the Hudson River each day, to illustrate the perilous situation that our nation's infrastructure faces. Citing statistics from Too Big to Fall, the article, written by Lois Weiss, relates to the 7,980 bridges in the nation that are both structurally deficient as well as fracture critical. Fracture critical bridges are vulnerable to collapse if even one critical structural member fails, a possibility made even more likely when these bridges are subject to corrosion and deterioration due to deferred maintenance.

The Tappan Zee may be replaced for an estimated $16 billion (if not more due to unwarranted cost overruns that plague the construction industry) if the funding can be found. However, finding funding is highly unlikely in these budget deficit days. This exposes millions of travelers annually over that bridge to face a very dangerous prospect indeed.