Fixed Wallkill bridge wobble won’t jeopardize project schedule

Bridge crew examines unexpected movement of temporary bridge abutment on west side of Wallkill River last week. (photo by Paul Brown)

Bridge crew examines unexpected movement of temporary bridge abutment on west side of Wallkill River last week. (photo by Paul Brown)

Additional footings have been constructed for the temporary bridge over the Wallkill in New Paltz, but the county executive says the project is still on schedule. Two large cranes unexpectedly reappeared on the west bank of the river last week to reposition the temporary Bailey bridge that will soon be carrying traffic while the current 76-year-old Carmine Liberta Bridge is replaced.

When contacted, Ulster County executive Mike Hein confirmed that a problem did develop. “When the bridge crews initially set the temporary bridge, they saw some movement in one of the supporting abutments on the western bank,” he said. “While the movement was within acceptable parameters, our engineers determined that the prudent course of action was to pour two additional concrete footings further inland to provide additional support for the temporary bridge.”

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Once the additional footings had set, the cranes were used to lift the bridge, extend its length to reach the new footings, and then set it down again. “There was never any danger to the public or the workers,” Hein said. “The temporary bridge now rests on both the original abutments and the new footings to make sure we double down on safety and security.”

The project is still on schedule, Hein said, and the paving of the temporary span and transitioning of traffic will proceed beginning this week. “We allow for these types of issues in our planning. The overall schedule was never in jeopardy, and we are very much on target for the opening of the new Carmine Liberta Bridge later this year.”

While the temporary bridge is in use, two-lane traffic crossing the river will be maintained. The speed limit will be 25 miles per hour, and traffic coming from Huguenot Street will become right-turn-only until the new bridge is put in service.

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