HUDSON — Columbia County may consider transferring ownership of a rare historic bridge in Claverack to the town so that it can be restored for pedestrian traffic.
The Columbia County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to consider a resolution at its full board meeting Wednesday allowing the county to transfer the Shaw Bridge, named after William Shaw, who owned an adjacent farm in 1987, that carried Van Wyck Lane over Claverack Creek, to the town of Claverack so the town can use a $400,000 state grant to restore the historic bridge.
The Shaw Bridge is one of the last remaining eight Whipple Bowstring Truss Bridges and was one of the first bridge designs in the world that utilized scientific principles. The bridge was designed by Squire Whipple and constructed by John D. Hutchinson in 1870. It is the only span to remain in its original location and the only bridge in the U.S. to have a double span.
“This bridge is very significant to the town,” said Town of Claverack Historian Jeane LaPorta. “These types of bridges were subjects of study for future bridge types.”
The bridge was part of a private road that entered Shaw’s farm, who relocated to the area from downstate, LaPorta said. Later it was used by other farmers in the area, LaPorta said.
“I remember going over the bridge with my father when I was a kid,” LaPorta said. “He was a farmer and he would cross it on the way to the mill. I used to hide under the dashboard because the sound it made when we crossed scared me.”
In 1931 what are today Routes 23 and 9H were constructed and diverted traffic away from the bridge. The bridge remained in use with a load limit of two tons through at least 1988.
The Shaw Bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
The bridge is owned by the county but was maintained by the town of Claverack, and due to deterioration of the deck, the bridge was closed to vehicular traffic and pedestrians.
The town is looking to restore the bridge enough for pedestrian traffic to cross.
The town received a matching grant, but the town could not use the money for the purposes of restoration because it did not own the bridge, Claverack Town Supervisor Clifford “Kippy” Weigelt said.
The county plans to transfer ownership of the bridge to the town and help distribute the grant money to restore the bridge.
The bridge needs a new deck, sandblasting and painting, Weigelt said, all of which will be covered by the grant.
The town also needs permission from four adjacent landowners before the town can move forward with its plans, Weigelt said, and it is unclear at this time when the project will be completed.
“Certain things you realize you want to keep around,” Weigelt said. “It is amazing how old the bridge is, but it is still in really good shape.”Airport hangar project
The Columbia County Board of Supervisors will also consider a resolution at its meeting Wednesday to award a $491,975 construction contract to Wainschaf Associates of Rensselaer to rehabilitate the existing 10-Bay T-Hangar at the Columbia County Airport.
Passero Associates completed the design plans for the rehabilitation. The contract plans and specifications are by the state Department of Transportation Aviation Bureau and the project was advertised for construction bids in late April. The county received three bids.
The project was budgeted in the 2018 County Airport Capital Budget account and is funded with state Aviation Capital Grant Funds at 85 percent of the cost. Columbia County will cover 15 percent.