SLINGERLANDS — The county will begin work on the anticipated Rail Trail Bridge Replacement project on Monday, March 6.
The county Department of Public Works issued a traffic advisory for local residents, announcing tree removal efforts will require intermittent lane closures along New Scotland Road each weekday between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.
The initial project will last an estimated three weeks as a temporary Rail Trail pedestrian detour is constructed.
Over the years, the current bridge has weathered the abuse of time and modern-day traffic. Knarled support beams reveal the scars from misguided commercial trucks ignoring signs indicating the span’s height of 11 feet, 2 inches. Crumbling cement has led the County to close both sidewalks that run adjacent to New Scotland Road.
The bridge, a 100-year-old relic from the Delaware and Hudson Railroad, has been struck several times in recent years by commercial trucks unable to bypass. It’s to be replaced by a new, two-girder bridge. The $1.9 million span will replace the aging, 42-foot-long structure, while raising it to 15 feet, 6 inches above the roadway to meet state requirements.
The County had obtained the bridge in 2008 despite a report that deemed the metal structure and surrounding concrete to be in poor condition. The span has since been incorporated into the popular rail trail, used by pedestrians and bicyclists between Voorheesville and Albany.
Two years later, the County was prompted to make temporary repairs following a New York state Department of Transportation report that warned the bridge’s “load carrying capacity” was in danger.
Construction on the new bridge was slated to begin in the summer of 2020; however, the outbreak of COVID-19 that spring halted those plans. A lawsuit with Sprint Communication was settled last year, with the County agreeing to cover costs of moving communication lines that currently run along the bridge.
In 2019, the County estimated that the bridge was struck by nine times over the preceding 11 years. A Queensbury motorist was arrested in 2021 after driving the cement truck he was operating into the bridge. The truck was lodged underneath the bridge for hours, causing the roadway to be closed before the truck could be removed.
The new construction is expected to allow the neighboring Slingerlands Fire District to travel under the bridge, improving response times. The southern sidewalk on New Scotland Road will be removed, allowing for an ADA-compliant sidewalk on the opposite side. The wider roadway should also provide shoulders for cyclists.