High toll for old bridge: Rehab set at $450K

CLAVERACK–Ian Nitschke, chair of the town Historic Preservation Advisory Committee, told the Town Board earlier this month he received an estimate of $450,000 to restore restoration of the historic Shaw Bridge on Van Wyck Lane. The estimate was from Ryan Biggs, a structural engineering consulting firm.

Mr. Nitschke told the Columbia Paper in a phone conversation earlier this week that the Shaw Bridge, built in 1870, is unique in that it is the only double-spanned Whipple bowstring truss bridge known to exist. The bridge is based on the 1841 design of Squire Whipple, who Mr. Nitschke said is “the father of iron bridge design in the United States.” Mr. Nitschke also said Squire Whipple was the first to calculate the requirements of both wooden and iron bridges.

Last year, the Town of Claverack used grant money from the Preservation League of New York State to fund an engineering study to estimate the cost of restoring and preserving the bridge, which was closed in the mid-1990s. Mr. Nitschke said the studies were conducted by Ryan Biggs as well as Dr. Francis Griggs, a well know expert in this field. He said now that Claverack has the estimate bridge supporters can seek funding through grants and fundraising.

He said one grant on the town’s radar might come from the Transportation Enhancement Program (TEP), administered by the state but federally funded. A TEP grant would require the town to match 20% of the grant through other revenue sources.

“For such a significant bridge that really has been famous nationally and internationally, $450,000 doesn’t seem like very much,” Mr. Nitschke said. “It has historical significance.”

In addition to being the only double-spanned Whipple bridge, Shaw bridge is also believed to be the only Whipple bridge still in its original location.

“This is a very unique bridge, and it’s worthy of civil engineering,” he said.

Also at the June 13 board meeting the board:

Tabled the proposed local law that would have changed the zoning to include the old Claverack School building in the Hamlet Business District. It is currently in the Hamlet Residential District. The law had been proposed after Shari Kline of Traditions Linens said she wanted to purchase the building to house her business. She has since dropped her offer to buy the building from the Hudson City School District, so the zoning change is no longer necessary.

“I’m sad to do this,” said Town Supervisor Robin Andrews.

Heard from Ms. Andrews that Philmont Community Day, scheduled for Saturday June 29, will feature all-day events and will end with an Elvis impersonator and then fireworks.



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