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County Executive McCoy Selects New Rail Trail Bridge Design

Posted: Thursday, October 3, 2019 10:52 AM

Replacement Addresses Current Bridge’s Extensive Structural Deficiencies & Saves Taxpayer Dollars

Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy announced today the final choice for the future of the structurally unsound bridge along the Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail that traverses New Scotland Road/New York State Route 85 in Slingerlands. The decision for the two-girder bridge was made after two informational public meetings, multiple stakeholder meetings, and a public comment period.

Three choices were considered in the final phase of the decision making process. One would rehabilitate the current structure, which could cost approximately $3.2 million and would have an estimated 35-year design life, with additional costs for ongoing maintenance. Two other choices would replace the bridge, each with lifespans of at least 75 years: the two-girder structure would cost about $1.9 million and pre-fabricated truss would cost an estimated $1.8 million.

“As the County Executive, I take my roles in upholding public safety and being a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars extremely seriously. Our choice of the two-girder replacement addresses the current ongoing structural deterioration, potentially saves over $1 million in construction costs and incorporates community input with a design that blends in with the historical nature of the area,” said McCoy.

“I’m also looking forward to continuing our conversations with both the State Department of Transportation and the Town of Bethlehem to enhance this project by potentially adding crosswalks, additional signage and other options for traffic calming purposes to make the state roadway and the entire area as safe as possible for pedestrians and drivers alike,” he continued.

Over the last eleven years, the bridge columns as well as the bridge itself have been struck nine times, with the current bridge being a contributing factor in five additional crashes, which has sped up it’s structural decline. In late 2018, an inspection report showed that the current bridge was in need of immediate repairs, which were then completed in January of this year. Once the emergency column repairs were completed to temporarily maintain structural integrity, Albany County began work on the long-term solution to stabilize the area.

The upcoming project comes with a number of safety improvements for the local community. To meet the State Department of Transportation minimum required vertical clearance, the bridge will be raised, which will improve line of sight ahead for motorists. In addition, this will allow for the Slingerlands Fire District to travel under the bridge and improve response times for some incidents. The southern sidewalk on State Route 85 will be removed, allowing for a wider, newly-ADA compliant sidewalk on the northern side. This will make maintenance easier and less costly for the Town of Bethlehem during the winter months, while wider roadway shoulders will improve safety for cyclists.

The final design phase of the project is expected to be complete this fall, with the expected start of construction to begin in the spring or summer of 2020. The rendering for the future bridge is attached.

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Albany County ExecutiveDaniel P. McCoy