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Cuomo helps blow up high falls bridge
BY NICOLE DELAWDER • ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 2/1/17
With the help of Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, Gov. Andrew Cuomo took a literal hands-on approach to fixing New York’s outdated infrastructure. On Wednesday, the governor and local officials pushed a plunger connected to explosives on the Route 213 bridge in Ulster County’s High Falls to fracture the steel trusses of the old bridge. The explosion caused the 86-year-old bridge to collapse into the Rondout Creek below in order to make way for a new, safer structure.
“This bridge has done great service but now it’s going to be a better, safer bridge,” Cuomo said at the press conference. The new span will cost $12.4 million and is set to open by June 30, 2017.
The High Falls Bridge is a steel thru-truss bridge built on two piers with steel girder approach spans built in 1931.
The previous 275-foot, three-span structure over Route 213 that was demolished is being replaced with a new, single-span 230-foot structural steel bridge with a reinforced concrete deck and abutments founded on piles, according to the governor.
Work on the new Route 213 Bridge includes the removal of the existing superstructure and substructure, replacement of the existing structures with new foundations, substructures, superstructure and approach slabs and other approach work. Prior to Wednesday’s demolition, the bridge decking was removed, limiting the amount of dust and debris that could fall into the creek.
“For too long state government was unwilling to take on ambitious projects – opting instead to make repairs which amounted to nothing more than temporary fixes to reoccurring problems,” Governor Cuomo said. “The Empire Bridge program and every infrastructure project we take on shows that New York is getting things done, and building our future for future generations to come.”
Sidewalks will also be built to safely accommodate pedestrians traveling from the bridge to view the nearby waterfall.
The bridge is one of six state-owned bridges in Ulster County and has a daily traffic volume of over 4,000 vehicles. It was shut down on January 3 in preparation for the demolition. A November 2015 inspection by the New York State Department of Transportation noted that the bridge was “functionally obsolete” with a rating of 3.92 out of seven. A bridge is considered in good condition with a rating of five or higher.
The new bridge is one of 100 bridges being replaced under a statewide $542 million infrastructure project. 47 bridges remain to be replaced and updated as part of the program.
Traffic heading from High Falls to Ellenville will be detoured to Berne Road, and traffic from Lucas Turnpike into High Falls will be redirected to Sawdust Road (County Route 26) to Route 213.