Bridges of the Mid-Hudson Valley
Kathryn W. Burke
The Hudson River bridges, iconic structures of the New York State Bridge Authority, are the cornerstone of the Mid-Hudson Valley. Opened in 1924, the Bear Mountain Bridge was the first vehicular crossing of the Hudson River, south of Albany. Twentieth-century growth in the Hudson Valley can be traced to each bridge opening, the result of grassroot efforts by local residents. The Mid-Hudson Bridge, named for the region these bridges span, was designated an "Engineering Epic" following the tipping of the east caisson that delayed construction for a year while engineers and laborers struggled to right that caisson in the waters of the Hudson River. The plan for the Rip Van Winkle Bridge required the creation of the New York State Bridge Authority, when funding was otherwise impossible during the Great Depression. Three more bridges were built connecting remaining areas of the Mid-Hudson region. The last crossing became the "twin spans" of the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge, the New York State Bridge Authority's most traveled span. In 2010, the New York State Bridge Authority gained ownership of the bridge structure of the Walkway Over the Hudson, a pedestrian walkway built on the old Poughkeepsie Bridge, which opened for trains in 1889.