Bridge project back on course

File photoThe Ferry Street Bridge project is undergoing a major reconstruction project until September 2020.

HUDSON — The Ferry Street Bridge project is moving toward demolition after nearly a year with no progress.

The rebuilt bridge would once again connect Front Street to the waterfront across the CSX/Amtrak railroad tracks.

The city closed the bridge to vehicular traffic in October 2014. Prior to the closure, the bridge was inspected annually. After the May 2015 inspection, the state Department of Transportation closed the bridge to vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

Traffic to the waterfront now crosses the level train tracks via Broad Street.

At the Jan. 22 Department of Public Works and Parks meeting, Superintendent Rob Perry said the draft design review agreement had been sitting on the desk of the state DOT Region 8 in Poughkeepsie for over a year awaiting authorization.

On Thursday, Perry said his department received the executed agreements last week and sent the railroads the escrow amount for design review that he talked about at last month’s meeting.

“Both railroads are actively engaged with the review of the draft design report,” Perry said.

The DOT has reached out with questions during its review process, one regarding a curb that encroaches onto state park property. Perry said the plan is being modified to avoid using that area.

“Once we remove the project from state parkland and have concurrence from both CSX and Amtrak, we anticipate DOT will then approve the draft design report, which will allow the city to commence final design, right-of-way acquisition and ultimately, demolition of the existing structure and replacement with a new structure,” Perry said Thursday.

Perry said, based on the current status, he predicts the department will obtain design approval by summer 2020. Final plans could be completed by spring 2021, he added.

The bridge was constructed in 1905 from components of the old Albany Freight Bridge, which was built between 1851 and 1858. Made of steel and stone, hangers were added in 1915, renovated and altered in 1934, and rehabilitated in 1955. In 1995, new footings, a new wooden deck and a pedestrian walkway were added.

“It was comprised of five parallel lattice pony trusses, which carried two 21-foot-wide roadways flanked by 15-foot-wide streetcar right of ways to the north and south,” according to the March 5, 2018, DOT report. “The outer lanes, carrying the streetcars, were removed when the Hudson trolley line was discontinued.”

Due to the various changes over the year, the DOT determined the bridge no longer reflects its original design or use, and rehabilitation would not be possible. In 2018, the bridge was found ineligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places because components had been salvaged from the Albany Freight Bridge.

In March 2016 the Ferry Street Working Group was formed, comprised of representatives from all levels of state and local government. City Attorney Carl G. Whitbeck determined that Hudson owned the bridge and was responsible for replacing it.

A public information meeting was held to discuss the proposed reconstruction of the bridge on Oct. 29, 2018, at the Hudson Area Library. Creighton Manning, the engineering firm hired to design the new bridge, presented a proposal estimated at $2.1 million.

The 2016 Hudson city budget established a $600,000 capital reserve fund for the Ferry Street Bridge. In addition, there is $3.1 million from the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program through the DOT.

“This is not a grant from the federal government,” Charles Tutujian, project manager with Creighton Manning, said at the 2018 meeting. “It is a reimbursement. Basically every step of the design process, as long as we follow regulations through the feds and the state, will be reimbursed as it goes through design and also through construction.”

At the 2018 meeting, the presentation laid out a time line, with construction bids starting in January 2020, work beginning in April, and the project’s completion in September.

“Back in 2017, the railroad said they were going to be doing a coordinated review on behalf of both railroads, and then in 2019 CSX said no, we want to review the project ourselves,” Perry said at the Feb. 26 meeting. “We thought we were moving pretty well with the progress, and then that slowed it up a little bit.”

The proposed new bridge would have a 75-year lifespan and meet Amtrak and federal highway safety standards.

While this project is not funded through the $10 million in DRI funds Hudson was awarded — which includes improvements to the city’s BRIDGE District and waterfront — the Ferry Street Bridge is listed under the DRI plan’s fourth goal, transportation.

“The intersection of South Front and Broad streets also leads to the river, but the area is very poorly defined and is a confusing point of convergence between trains, trucks, cars, pedestrians and bicyclists,” according to the DRI plan.

Abby Hoover is a reporter for the Register-Star. Contact her at (518) 828-1616 ext. 2500 or ahoover@registerstar.com.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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