Federal funds go to work on bridges

Route 9G bridge closes for repairs, three other projects ready

COPAKE–Repair or replacement work on four creaky Columbia County bridges over the Roe Jan Kill has just begun, will soon begin or will likely begin early next year, depending on the span.

A bridge over the stream on Route 9G, which straddles the Germantown/Livingston town lines, was closed for repairs by the state Department of Transportation (DOT) Monday, April 19. The span, built in 1932 and deemed “structurally deficient,” according to bridge data on the DOT website, will be closed until October.

The closure to traffic will allow the contractor–Bette & Cring LLC of Latham–to perform the rehabilitation, which includes repair or replacement of structural steel elements and replacement of the concrete deck, according to DOT spokesman Allison Ackerman.

Spans in Copake and Ancram are also slated for major upgrades.

The Route 9G bridge repair is only one element of a bigger project that involves three locations, with a total project cost of $5.3 million. The project, which is funded by the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, commonly called the economic stimulus package, also includes the construction of a park-and-ride lot on state Route 199 in Rhinebeck, Dutchess County and the construction of an emergency turnaround on the Taconic State Parkway in Milan, also in Dutchess.

The DOT has established a detour around the Route 9G bridge:

*From the Rip Van Winkle Bridge (or points north)–Route 23 east to Route 9 south; to Route 9G north

*From the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge (or points south)–Route 199 east to Route 9G south; to Route 9 north to Route 23 west.

Signs are posted, and the portable variable message signs are turned on as well, alerting motorists to the closure.

“We are currently installing supplemental signage to inform local traffic (traffic within the parameters of the detour that may not normally use the official detour route or those who live close to the bridge) to advise them of the closure of the road between Block Factory Road and county Route 10,” Ms. Ackerman said by email.

“Over the course of the next few days, we will also be developing and installing signs alerting travelers that businesses in the area of the closure and/or along Route 9G are still open for business,” she said.

Copake, Ancram

Replacement of two bridges, one in Copake, the other in Ancram, will get underway within the next two to three weeks, Columbia County Engineer Dean Knox told The Columbia Paper April 20.

Mr. Knox met Tuesday morning with A. Colarusso and Sons, the contractors who will construct new bridges to replace both the Miller Bridge on Empire Road in Copake and the Rockefeller Bridge on Hall Hill Road in Ancram. The purpose of the meeting was to firm up scheduling and other contract details.

Both the Miller and the Rockefeller bridges will remain open during the construction of replacement spans. Both projects will be done simultaneously, with completion expected by the end of the year, said Mr. Knox.

One hundred percent of the project costs for both bridges will be covered by federal stimulus program dollars, he said, noting that other projects can now move up on the list of projects in line waiting to be done.

Labeled “structurally deficient,” according to the state DOT website, the Rockefeller Bridge, an 80-year-old span built in 1930, was closed in February 2008 after developing a 2-by-3-foot hole in the driving lane. A new temporary Mabey Universal Bridge, shipped from England, was installed on top of the crumbling Rockefeller Bridge in the spring of 2008. The temporary bridge, which is essentially one-lane, will remain in use while a new two-lane bridge with improved alignment is constructed 60 to 70 feet upstream.

While the old bridge is between 50 to 60 feet long, the new bridge will be significantly longer, close to 100 feet in length, said Mr. Knox.

Existing Rockefeller Bridge abutments are in the water, said Mr. Knox, but abutments for the new bridge will be up on the slope at the top of the stream bank to open up the waterway underneath–decreasing erosion around the abutments, allowing more flood waters to pass through and debris to flow underneath without getting caught on the span.

Construction of the bridge will be straightforward and simple from the setting of the beams followed by the building of the concrete deck, Mr. Knox said. The project cost is $1.1 million.

Built in 1931, the Miller Bridge on Empire Road will be torn down and replaced exactly where it is now, said the engineer. First a temporary bridge will be built off to the side, then the old bridge, which is classified as neither structurally deficient nor functionally obsolete by DOT, will be demolished and a new bridge will be built on the existing alignment. The length of the Miller Bridge will be slightly increased from 60 to 70 feet and abutments will be moved up on the stream banks. The project cost is $866,566.

Eminent domain proceedings have just been set in motion in connection with the much talked about replacement of the bridge near Brown’s Dam on Center Hill Road (county Route 7A) in Copake.

The Columbia County Board of Supervisors voted April 14 to go forward with the procedure to acquire a total .17 acres of land from the Taconic Shores Property Owners Association in connection with the replacement of the bridge situated parallel to Brown’s Dam.

Replacement of the bridge, which has been fortified with steel plates to keep it intact, is part of a larger project which covers about six miles total and involves the resurfacing of Center Hill Road from Church Street to county Route 7; and continues northwest on county Route 7 to state Route 23 in Craryville.

The county initially applied to state DOT for the road rehabilitation project in 1999. The project cost was estimated at $4 million with the federal government picking up 80% of the tab, the state 15% and the county 5%, according to an August 2009 story in The Columbia Paper about the project and the hurdles it has encountered.

DOT rates the bridge at Brown’s Dam, which is 75 years old, as structurally deficient.

Mr. Knox said that the county is hoping to have all necessary approvals in place in order to put the project out for bid this fall and begin construction in early 2011.

“The Taconic Shores Property Owners Association has never had a problem with the physical design of the bridge replacement project,” said Mr. Knox. The project aims to reconfigure the sharp curve at the southeast end of the bridge to create a smooth arc.

The property owners’ main concern about the project is that the bridge work will cause the nearby Brown’s dam to fail. The dam retains and limits the flow of water from Robinson’s Pond into the stream. Robinson’s Pond is the centerpiece of the Taconic Shores development.

The county has successfully completed at least three other bridge projects in close proximity to dams and historic houses and has consulted with the state DOT about how to proceed with projects under sensitive conditions, said Mr. Knox, noting the precautions such as the installation of vibration monitoring equipment and regular close inspection of the dam will take place.

Currently, the plan is to keep one lane of the bridge open regulated by a traffic light during the bridge construction.

To contact Diane Valden email .

Comments are closed.