Replacement to silence old span’s songs

COPAKE—The “singing bridge” will lose its voice when the span is replaced in 2016.

At its December 11 meeting, the Town Board passed a resolution temporarily suspending the five-ton vehicular weigh limit on Center Hill Road, a county road, to establish a truck route detour in anticipation of the replacement of the Dinehart Bridge.

Known locally as “the singing bridge,” the span carries County Route 7A over the Roeliff Jansen Kill, between the Copake hamlet and West Copake.

In an October 22 notice addressed to the town supervisor, the Copake Fire Company, the Taconic Hills School District, Columbia County 911, the Copake Highway Department, Coarc and the Copake Post Office, the Columbia County Department of Public Works (DPW) advised that the recent biennial inspection of the Dinehart Bridge by the state Department of Transportation (DOT) revealed “significant and increased I-beam deterioration near the bridge abutments at four of the bridge’s seven main steel members, which has resulted in the issuance of a red structural flag…”

The red flag prompted a posted reduction of the weight of the vehicles allowed to use the bridge from any legal-sized load (no limit) to a five-ton weight limit, October 23.

According to county DPW Engineering Division Director Dean Knox, the DOT initially wanted the bridge closed. But after temporary repairs were made with timbers at each end of the main beams, a subsequent DOT inspection earned the bridge a 10-ton load rating.

The 60- to 70-foot long steel girder bridge with an open steel grating deck, which emits a loud humming sound when traversed by vehicle tires, was last replaced in 1938 “after the big flood,” Mr. Knox told The Columbia Paper in a phone interview this week.

Because the bridge’s deck is not a solid surface, it must be cleaned and washed every year to combat “problems with the stringers below.” Age and rust issues create common yellow flags in these types of bridges, said Mr. Knox, adding, for some reason this bridge didn’t give much warning before it was found to be significantly deteriorated. The bridge carries a high volume of traffic at fairly high speeds, so it is not surprising that it has gotten to this point, he said.

Since the weight limit has been imposed, the unknowing drivers of overweight vehicles come upon the bridge—stop, back up, turn around in residents’ driveways and take town roads, which all have five-ton weight limits, to get where they are going.

Or some just go over the bridge anyway.

The situation has spurred complaints to town officials from residents whose driveways are used for maneuvering and those who live on nearby, usually quiet town roads now traversed by big trucks, according to Town Supervisor Jeff Nayer.

Councilwoman Jeanne Mettler, who lives on one of the affected roads, asked whether there was some way to expedite the job. Mr. Nayer said work on the Dinehart Bridge has already been moved up ahead of another bridge on the priority list and such a project takes time to develop.

Mr. Knox said the bridge will likely be replaced with a concrete-deck bridge. The design process for a new bridge, which will include new abutments, will take from January to the fall of 2015; the project will go out to bid next winter and construction will get underway in the spring 2016, with completion expected by the fall of the same year.

After that “the bridge will never sing again,” he said.

The bridge will be closed during construction. Traffic will be rerouted to Center Hill Road, and then to County Route 7, which comes out in West Copake. The detour is roughly five miles and is reminiscent of the situation created when the Brown’s Dam bridge was replaced a couple of years ago.

In other business the Town Board:

*Heard from Supervisor Nayer that the long duration rain, freezing rain and snow storm that lingered over the county last week cost the town $15,000 in materials and overtime. Mr. Nayer said these “nuisance” storms that require multiple rounds of plowing and applying salt and sand are far more costly than one big storm “when we’re in and we’re out.”

*Re-appointed Steve Savarese and Chris Grant to the Planning Board

*Appointed town Animal Control Officer Wes Powell the town’s new dog enumerator. Mr. Powell will count the town canines next year for $2,500. He has also contracted to count Ancram’s dogs.

The town’s yearend meeting is December 27 at 10 a.m. and its organization meeting is January 8 at 6:30 p.m. prior to the regular January meeting.

To contact Diane Valden email

 

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