Over 1400 voted, and in the end red beat out green 669 to 616 in a poll to determine the new color of the bridge over the Esopus Creek. The bridge will be painted this summer.
This bold new color choice is just the latest chapter in the history of the creek crossing. Before there was a bridge, travelers would ford the creek further upstream, crossing between what is now the Esopus Bend Preserve and a residential area on Esopus Creek Road. Later, a ferry operated in that same area. In the 19th century, a covered bridge was built in the same spot the bridge now stands. It was replaced by a beautiful lattice bridge at around the turn of the century, which was in turn replaced by the current bridge in the late ’20s, according to village code enforcement officer Alex Wade, who believes the older bridge – while much more attractive than its successor – probably wasn’t able to bear the weight of larger vehicles. The lattice bridge was dismantled and dumped, and now rests in the muck at the bottom of the creek. The current bridge was built its foundation.
For most of its life, the bridge surface consisted of grates, not asphalt. In the late ’80s, it was paved and painted green. (The original color was gray.) While the grating allowed snow to pass through, asphalt meant the bridge had to be plowed, and the snow and salt mix accumulation accelerated the rust, which shows up starkly against green paint. This won’t be as bad a problem when it’s red, said Wade.
The village asked the state DOT to paint the bridge for years, and for years the answer was always no. So Mayor William Murphy was surprised last week when the answer was suddenly yes – and what color would you like? At first, the mayor was given two choices, red or green. Eventually two more choices were added, light and dark gray. The mayor first asked for Sawyer Blue, the high school’s color, but DOT said no. (Wade speculates that after recent negative reaction to the blue paint on the Rosendale Rt. 32 bridge, the state removed blue from its palette.) Rather than making the call unilaterally, the mayor decided to open the vote up to the public.
The DOT hasn’t given the village a work schedule, and officials aren’t sure if the work will require closing the bridge completely or just one lane at a time. Wade estimates the cost of repainting at around $1 million.