It will take more than a paint job to restore the rust-encrusted, bumpy old Rondout Creek bridge between Kingston and Port Ewen, state officials say.
Despite its dilapidated look, the bridge, built in 1921 and inspected every other year, is structurally sound, say officials from the state Department of Transportation. But it was last painted “some time in the nineties” and obviously needs work. There have been numerous complaints from motorists and observers.
A spokesperson for DOT said “at least $20 million” has been scheduled in the department’s 2016 budget to rehab the 1,145-foot-long bridge, co-designed by the firm founded by Brooklyn Bridge designer John A. Roebling. While $300,000 has been set aside for routine annual (safety) maintenance, painting, the spokesperson said, would cost around $7 million and is not anticipated for at least three years.
The old Rondout suspension bridge — its formal name is the Kingston-Port Ewen Suspension Bridge — has been carrying much less traffic since the nearby Loughran Bridge was opened in the early 1970s. Its carrying capacity has been downgraded to five tons.
Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, who has been lobbying the DOT for repairs and painting, believes major repairs on the bridge are unlikely. “They say they’ll do it when they get funding, which I think means they’re never ever going to do it,” he said.
Cahill suggests that the iconic bridge, which has served the Rondout for 92 years, has more of a future as a walkway over the creek, which would cost substantially less. Its present condition is “an embarrassment” to residents and tourists alike, he said.
“Rondout is an evolving area, especially in terms of tourism,” Cahill said. “Is this the gateway to Kingston we want to show to visitors?”
Discussions, he said, are continuing with DOT and the New York State Bridge Authority, which he said would be interested (“They do bridges pretty well, after all,” Cahill said) only if a guaranteed funding stream is provided. But a DOT spokesperson said there had been no discussions on the fate of the Rondout bridge with the New York State Bridge Authority, which is headquartered in Highland and operates the local trans-Hudson spans.