Interstate 87 along the Adirondack Northway north at the Black River in the town of Westport. 07/20/05
The path of the Northway was debated and included discussion about whether to route it east or west of Saratoga Springs and whether to shift it east away from Adirondack Park toward the Vermont state line among other proposals. Three possibilities made it into final consideration:5
- Routing I-87 northeastward from Albany to Whitehall and Ticonderoga and westward to the current Northway within the Town of Elizabethtown near New Russia. This alignment would have completely avoided Adirondack Park.
- Routing I-87 northward through the Schroon River Valley and along the west side of Schroon Lake.
- Routing I-87 north from Saratoga Springs to Lake George via the Town of Queensbury and then shifting slightly west to the west side of Schroon Lake.
The options through Adirondack Park spurned opposition and the formation of a citizens group, Citizens’ Northway Committee, in 1958, which advocated redirecting the Northway around the park. They supported an eastern route through the Champlain Valley, with I-87 staying east of its current route from Ticonderoga to Crown Point, Port Henry and Westport to Keeseville. Ultimately the path of I-87 was decided with public input and a state constitutional amendment passed in 1959.5
Interstate 87 did not follow the entire New York Thruway mainline, including the Tappan Zee Bridge, from Elmsford to Newburgh until 1969. The 1968 Highway Act included legislation that shifted I-87 west onto the New York Thruway. The Interstate was previously routed along the Cross Westchester Expressway (I-287) between Elmsford and White Plains, the present alignment of I-684 northward from White Plains to Brewster, and an overlap with I-84 west from Brewster to Newburgh. FHWA approved this relocation on September 11, 1969, followed by AASHTO on October 26, 1969. The same AASHTO meeting included the establishment of Interstate 684.
A $19.8 million project started in April 2014 replaced the U.S. 11 overpass at Exit 42 and reconstructed a nearly two mile section of Interstate 87 at Champlain in Clinton County. Construction also reconfigured the exchange into a dumbbell interchange. Work ran through late fall 2015.10
Until 2017, Interstates 87 & 287 crossed the Hudson River on the Governor Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge. The cantilevered bridge between South Nyack and Tarrytown opened to traffic on December 15, 1955 as part of the New York Thruway mainline between Rockland and Westchester Counties. The crossing accommodated six overall lanes until the mid-1980s, when a narrow asphalt median was removed to allow for a seventh travel lane.6
Looking east at the Tappan Zee Bridge from the northward curve of I-287 ahead of South Nyack. Construction commenced on the bridge in 1952 and the span cost $60 million to build.6 06/13/05
The concept of replacing the aging Tappan Zee Bridge arose in 2000 after a recommendation by a state task force. It would take another decade however for the replacement to gain backing, and it did by October 2011, leading to a $3.1-billion design and contractor selection by a state review panel and the Thruway Authority.6
The notice to proceed on the new bridge occurred in January 2013, with test piles erected starting in July 2013. Construction on the bridge approaches began in March 2014, with main superstructure work following in June 2014. Dedicated to former New York Governor Mario N. Cuomo, the cabled stayed bridge opened to northbound traffic following a ribbon cutting ceremony held on August 24, 2017. Southbound traffic shifted to the new span on October 6, 2017. The bridge will handle two-way traffic until completion of the second bridge, anticipated for April 2018. Total costs for the new bridge top out at $3.9-billion.7 For more information, please see The New NY Bridge web site.
The first of the 40-foot-long girders were placed in early July 2016 over the four crossbeams which join together the eight towers on the new bridge. 192 cables support the girders and road deck over the main span. They tie into the 419 foot signature towers of the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge. The towers top out at 100 feet taller than the former Tappan Zee Bridge.9