It took only eight seconds last week after the giant shearing tool made the last surgical cut in the final supporting truss for the 300,000 pounds of steel that was the Carmine Liberta Bridge to tumble into the Wallkill River. County executive Mike Hein visited New Paltz the following day to walk the site and provide a progress report on the project to replace the 76-year-old bridge.
“This was a surgical drop which required months of planning, and given the fact that the superstructure was less than six feet from all of the telephone lines and broadband cables that serve the residents of the Village of New Paltz and those living west of the Wallkill, I can happily say that I am breathing a little easier today,” said Hein.
Hein gave credit to the members of the county highway department and the contractors working at the site, where an average of 10,000 cars per day cross the Wallkill River. “I’m incredibly proud of the hard work from our team that completed the demolition of the Carmine Liberta Bridge safely and with a total traffic interruption of only ten minutes,” he said.
Officers from the New Paltz police department were on hand to stop traffic crossing the temporary bridge for the short time it took to bring down the aging structure.
Hein pointed to the empty span where the bridge had been and to the riverbed below, from which all remains of the demolition had been removed in just over 24 hours. “This took months of planning, including coordination with dozens of other agencies such as the Department of Environmental Conservation, which issued the permit for our work near the Wallkill,” he said.
Local residents commenting on social media expressed no small amount of surprise that the project has progressed so smoothly.
Work on shoring up the abutments and the construction of the new bridge will begin immediately. There will be no overhead struts on the new bridge to obstruct the view of the Shawangunk Ridge. The result, Hein promised, would be “an attractive viewing area with stunning views to the west.”
The new bridge is on schedule to be completed before the end of the year.