Bridging the Past with “Walkway Over the Hudson”

February 15, 2011 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

In 1889, the Poughkeepsie Highland Railroad Bridge was an engineering marvel.  That year, the newly completed structure was considered the longest bridge in the world at almost 1.3 miles and boasted an innovative cantilever truss design.  The Bridge carried commuter and freight traffic over the Hudson River for 85 years until a fire in 1974 damaged a large portion of the bridge, rendering it unfit for use and causing the bridge to be abandoned.  Decades later, the nonprofit volunteer organization Walkway Over the Hudson set out to restore the bridge, reclaiming it for public use as an aerial park for pedestrians and cyclists.  Before the bridge could reopen, however, it required a full bridge inspection and repair design, and McLaren stepped in to help.

The first step of the inspection involved an underwater evaluation of the four piers of the bridge in the Hudson River.  Due to the high turbidity of the water, sonar scanning was used to produce underwater images of the bridge piers.  In addition, McLaren’s rope-access trained engineer/climber team performed a full climbing inspection of the above water steel superstructure.  Following the inspection, McLaren performed an in-depth structural analysis to assess the Bridge’s condition and identify needed repairs. Working with Bergmann Associates, McLaren then assisted in designing the repairs to convert the railroad bridge into a pedestrian walkway and public park. McLaren also designed repairs to the bridge piers, addressing deficiencies noted in the inspection.

Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park opened in October 2009 and accommodated over 40,000 visitors in the opening weekend alone.  Widely considered one of the premier waterfront public spaces, the Bridge provides breathtaking views of the Hudson River Valley and has even reclaimed its record-breaking status as the longest elevated pedestrian bridge in the world.  With McLaren’s assistance, this historic bridge has been preserved for the enjoyment of many generations to come.

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