Wurts Street Bridge: A span with no future?

(Phyllis McCabe)

(Phyllis McCabe)

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.

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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.

There are 3 comments

  1. Nelsie Aybar-Grau

    Thanks for reminding us of the condition this beautiful asset to the Rondout. Not a day passes that we do not lament this tragedy. We need a SAVE THE RONDOUT BRIDGE campaign!!!

  2. The Red Dog Party

    Every effort should be made to fully restore the Rondout Suspension Bridge. I believe it has a good chance of being designated as a landmark or National Historic Place, which would make it eligible for other funding streams and grants. It is the iconic symbol of Kingston.

  3. Blue Dog Democrat

    This was a top priority of Assemblyman Amedore. 18 more votes and we could have had a voice. Cahill is right it is an embarrassment how many years has he been re-elected to Albany to do the people’s work? This should be on his agenda especially now that he chairs the insurance committee… What type of insurance policy does the state have for neglecting bridges of more then 100′ feet in height?

    From DOT: https://www.dot.ny.gov/portal/pls/portal/MEXIS_APP.DYN_PROJECT_DETAILS.show?p_arg_names=p_pin&p_arg_values=880862

    This project consists of rehabilitating the bridge carrying Wurts Street over the Rondout Creek and Dock Street in the Town of Esopus and City of Kingston in Ulster County.

    Project Status

    The current status of the project is In Development.
    The Bid Opening is expected to be in Summer 2014.
    Construction is expected to begin in Fall 2014.
    Construction is expected to be completed in Summer 2014.

    Cost of the Project
    The project cost is approximately $10,000,000.

    This project receives funding from the following sources:
    Federal: Yes
    State : Yes
    Local : No
    This project falls within the geographical boundaries of the following legislative districts:

    U.S. Senators
    Schumer, Charles E.
    Gillibrand, Kirsten

    U.S. Congressional District(s)
    19th Congressional District (Gibson, Chris)

    State Senatorial District(s)
    46th Senatorial District (Tkaczyk, Cecilia)

    State Assembly District(s)
    103rd Assembly District (Cahill, Kevin A.)

    If you have questions please contact:

    Regional Director’s Office, PIN-880862
    NYSDOT Region 8 Public Information Officer
    4 Burnett Boulevard
    Poughkeepsie, NY 12603

    Phone: 845-431-5750

    Broadway Overpass is in worse shape then this bridge. But its budget season and another year will go by without the appropriate money to fix projects like this. “The NY Works Program is an innovative construction initiative designed to reduce the backlog of deficient roads and bridges while creating thousands of construction jobs. NY Works will provide $1.2 billion for work to improve more than 2,000 lane miles of roads and rehabilitate more than 100 bridges across the state.” Governor I guess controls even which bridges are fixed in NYS.

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