Mohonk Preserve kicked off the Trapps Bridge replacement project on Monday, March 6, 2017 at a meeting to formally award the construction contract to Saugerties, New York-based Merritt Construction, Inc. The old Trapps Bridge has been removed and will be replaced with a prefabricated steel pedestrian bridge with wooden decking, similar to the Cedar Drive Bridge over Mohonk Road near the Preserve's Spring Farm Pavilion. The bridge is being fabricated by Cameron Bridge Works, LLC of Elmira, New York.
Beginning on March 23, traffic on Route 44/55 was reduced to one lane via an automated signal while the bridge abutments are set back and rebuilt in preparation for the new bridge. Clearing and grubbing has been completed, with surplus wood being donated to the Samuel F. Pryor III Shawangunk Gateway Campground for the communal fire pit. Excavation of the accessible parking area to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards is complete and contractors are now working on drainage and the accessible ramp up to Trapps Road. They are now working on removing the old abutment on the south side. As part of our sustainability efforts for this project, after the abutment work is completed, the Preserve will repurpose the concrete retainer blocks to reinforce our materials storage area at Spring Farm. The full bridge project is slated for completion by August.
While construction is underway, Mohonk Preserve visitors will be redirected to a suite of temporary trails to maintain full access to carriage roads and trails. Thanks to Preserve Associate Director of Facilities & Grounds Justin Key for constructing the new steps for the temporary trail across Route 44/55. These temporary trails will be decommissioned after the project is completed.
To ensure everyone's safety, visitors are reminded not to enter the designated construction zone for the duration of this project.
Video by Martin Weiner
The saga of the Trapps Bridge dates back to 1930 when New York State Route 44/55 was constructed, improving the then New Paltz and Wawarsing Turnpike, and requiring replacement of the old wooden-deck Smiley Bridge connecting the Undercliff and Overcliff Roads on the east side of the Shawangunk Ridge to Trapps Road on the west side. This crossing still enables travel across what are now Mohonk Preserve lands and linkage to Minnewaska State Park Preserve. A steel railroad bridge was repurposed from another location and set in place in 1930 to provide safe passage over the new highway. While the span served its purpose ably for many years, it eventually became apparent the bridge needed to be replaced and, working with the New York State Department of Transportation, Mohonk Preserve began developing a replacement plan, which has involved a lengthy and costly engineering and approval process.
Bridge Replacement Project
Replacement of the Trapps Bridge began the week of March 6. The project should be completed by August. Beginning on March 23, traffic on Route 44/55 was reduced to one lane via an automated signal while abutments are set back and rebuilt in preparation for the new bridge. The bridge will be a prefabricated steel pedestrian bridge with wooden decking, similar in appearance to the Cedar Drive Bridge over Mohonk Road near the Preserve's Spring Farm trailhead. Once in place, the bridge will yield greatly improved visibility from the east and west approaches, as well as more accessibility to the trail system on the Preserve. Fully handicap-accessible parking will continue to be located on the south side of the road, and access on the north side will be a visitor-friendly ramped, multi-use path instead of the existing flight of stone steps. Finished landscaping will include new trees and plant species native to the ridge, designed to improve appearance minimize maintenance along the highway corridor.
During construction, Preserve visitors will be redirected to a suite of temporary trails to maintain full access to carriage roads and trails. From the West Trapps parking lot, access to Overcliff Road will be routed north of the construction area via a short connector trail from the West Trapps Connector path. To get to the south end of the Preserve, visitors will travel along a temporary trail from the West Trapps Trailhead booth across Route 44/55 via a temporary crossing, up a series of gentle switchbacks to Trapps Road near the Millbrook Ridge Trail. Information and updates will be provided on the Preserve's website and social media sites throughout the construction process. View an interpretive schematic of the project.