Design chosen for new $1.9M rail-trail bridge

— MJ Engineering and Land Surveying
Winner, winner: A $1.9 million two-girder bridge was chosen as the replacement option for the current structure that was built in 1912.

SLINGERLANDS — The crumbling century-old bridge that spans New Scotland Road in Slingerlands is set to be replaced with a $1.9 million overpass one-third the width of the original. 

Albany County acquired the bridge in 2009, as part of its purchase of the nine-mile stretch of railway that runs between the Port of Albany and Voorheesville — known today as Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail.

Built in 1912, the bridge has been in rough shape for some time; it’s been struck by vehicles passing beneath it nine times in the past 11 years, according to the county. 

A 2008 report said that the bridge’s structural steel and much of its concrete were in “very poor condition.”

A 2017 inspection by the New York State Department of Transportation said that the structure was in such bad shape, its deficiencies could “significantly impact” the bridge’s “load carrying capacity.”

Finally, in 2018, in response to a report by MJ Engineering and Land Surveying, the county made temporary repairs and began the process to either replace the bridge or repair it.

At a forum in May, engineers from MJ Engineering presented to the public four options for the bridge — two would replace it and two would rehabilitate it. 

The eventual winner called for: 

— Removing the 42-foot wide existing bridge and replacing it with a two-girder structure that is 14-feet wide,

— Raising the structure to 15 feet, 6 inches above the roadway to meet state requirements;

— Constructing new concrete abutments behind the existing retaining wall;

— Resurfacing the retaining walls;

— Modifying the sidewalks along New Scotland Road; and

— Painting the new structure.

At $1.9 million, the two-girder bridge was not the lowest bid the county received for the project — that would be a $1.8 million pre-fabricated truss bridge — but the county is also under no obligation to accept the lowest qualified bid. 

“We are not bound by going with the lowest option that is presented,” Mary Rozak, spokeswoman for County Executive Daniel McCoy told The Enterprise. 

McCoy made his decision, Rozak said, after considering feedback he’d received during two public meetings, multiple stakeholder meetings, and a public-comment period.

Final design is expected to be completed this fall, according to the county, with construction expected to start sometime in the spring or summer of 2020.

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Rail Trail bridge

Since this a rail banked trail, will the bridge be able to support rail traffic in the future if required?

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