Temporary two-lane bridge construction is underway in New Paltz

Construction recently began on the temporary bridge to go over the Wallkill River next to the Carmine Liberta Bridge in New Paltz. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Construction recently began on the temporary bridge to go over the Wallkill River next to the Carmine Liberta Bridge in New Paltz. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Preparation work for the new Carmine Liberta Bridge in New Paltz began on May 3 with the construction phase of a temporary bridge just north of the current bridge. To date, trees have been removed, electric poles and lines have been relocated, electric traffic signs are in place, and traffic delays have been kept to a minimum. While motorists are still using the existing bridge to cross the Wallkill River, a road base has been constructed on the western side of the Wallkill for a temporary crossing while the new bridge is installed. The eastern abutment for the temporary bridge will become part of the base for the future viewing platform.

According to Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, the temporary bridge installation is expected in early July, with a full transition of traffic by August. Traffic will remain two lanes, and there will be no street or bridge closures due to the work. Traffic coming off Huguenot Street will become right-turn only.

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“I’m extremely excited that construction has begun,” said Hein during a phone interview on Monday. “There’s a great deal of planning that has gone into this. When shovels are actually in the ground and you’re moving forward with a construction project, this is a huge step toward completion. I’m very focused on the outcome. I expect some inconveniences. I also understand that whatever inconveniences we’re going to have in the interim pale in comparison with the  massive inconvenience we would have had if we had closure. My real focus is the outcome.”

Hein explained that he has been in communication with local officials and business owners. “We appreciate everyone’s patience,” he said. “In the end, we expect to create an open and transformative public space, improving pedestrian and bicycle access with wider, safer lanes and a viewing platform for this iconic view.”

The new Wallkill River bridge will be an arched, Cambridge truss bridge with a weathered, natural steel finish. Lighting for the bridge’s cantilevered sidewalk will be luxrail-style LED handrail lighting. Lighting above the bridge will be minimalistic — not stylistic — and affordable. The total cost is estimated to be approximately $2.5 million. The Town of New Paltz website contains a detailed description of the project and, according to a public notice posted on March 22, 2016, $490,000 of this amount will come from Community Development Block Grant — Disaster Recovery program funding and the balance from local sources.

Hein said the project is slated for completion by December of 2016.

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