Most homeowners know that remodeling can be tricky. Paint colors and lighting fixtures can evoke passions that people didn’t know they had. Consensus can be elusive. Now, imagine making design decisions for a public landmark. That’s the task facing the Carmine Liberta Bridge replacement committee right now.
But despite any potential hang-ups, the bridge replacement committee surprised Ulster County officials by knowing what it wants. Members want the new Wallkill River bridge to be an arched, Cambridge truss bridge — likely with a weathered, natural steel finish.
Ulster County Planning Director Dennis Doyle seemed pleased, because picking colors and designs can deadlock some committees.
“That’s a big hurdle, folks,” Doyle said to committee members last week. “I appreciate that.”
Aesthetics was the reason the committee gave for choosing the arched style for the new Carmine Liberta Bridge. Cost, in part, was the reason members decided not to go with a painted bridge.
Early estimates pin replacement costs between $1.7 million and $2.5 million. And painting a bridge would add about 10% to the final construction costs, county officials said.
Without a painted bridge, there are only two surfacing options: weathered steel, which has a rusty red color; and galvanized steel, which retains a silver color.
When the replacement project begins in 2016, traffic will be routed to a temporary replacement bridge (situated north of the current bridge on the Wallkill).
One early thought was to make that temporary bridge permanent by turning it into a dedicated bicycle-pedestrian walkway. Committee members have dropped the idea of a bike-ped bridge, however.
Part of that is the cost. Part of that is location, according to Bill Weinstein, a bridge committee member.
Ideally, such a walkway bridge would connect to the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail and to Mohonk Preserve’s planned trails in the foothills. But the temporary bridge doesn’t exactly line up — it essentially lets out into a farmer’s field, which would disrupt an agricultural operation.
Weinstein suggested it might be better to wait and craft plans for a pedestrian bridge with Mohonk Preserve at a future date. “We’d like to have a great bridge,” he said.
Members of the public who’d like to give input to the bridge replacement committee can attend the next meeting, June 16, at 1 p.m., in the New Paltz Community Center.
To weigh in on the design for the Carmine Liberta Bridge, visit newpaltzx.com and participate in the online poll: How should New Paltz’s next bridge look?