Would extend over tracks at Breakneck
The developers of the Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail and the Town of Fishkill are seeking state Department of Transportation approval for the $50 million bridge that would carry hikers and bikers over the Metro-North tracks at Breakneck Ridge.
An administrative judge for the Transportation Department presided over a public hearing at Fishkill Town Hall on Wednesday (July 27) and said he will issue a determination within three months. Under state law, the state must approve the bridge, whose construction would launch the first phase of the 7.5-mile Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail.
Although the trail is designed to connect Cold Spring and Beacon, the section that includes the bridge lies within the boundaries of the Town of Fishkill that extend to the river.
Amy Kacala, executive director of Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail Inc. (HHFT), and Stephen McCorkell, a capital facilities manager with the state parks department, said the 437-foot span would have a steel frame and wood deck and reach a height of 20½ feet over the tracks. It would be part of the project called the Breakneck Connector.
The bridge would link a waterfront section of the trail running west of the tracks from Dockside Park in Cold Spring to Breakneck Ridge to the portion that runs east of the tracks and continues north to Beacon. This would allow hikers to reach Breakneck from the Metro-North station at Cold Spring without using Route 9D, a busy highway.
Located several hundred feet from the train tunnels, the bridge would be outfitted with a steel pedestrian barrier, railings at least 8 feet high and mesh to prevent anything from falling on the tracks, said McCorkell. The bridge would need a waiver because it would be about 3 feet lower than the standard, he said. It would be constructed from pre-fabricated sections lifted from a barge.
Along with hikers and bicyclists, the bridge would give New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection vehicles access to a drainage chamber built as part of an underwater pressure tunnel for the Catskill Aqueduct.
The chamber, which sits between Metro-North’s tracks and the river, became landlocked when Route 9D was built in 1932 and is only accessible by trail or boat, said Todd West, a planning director with the DEP.
The agency will provide $14 million toward construction of the bridge, he said, while Kacala said $20 million would come from the state parks department and the remainder from HHFT. Construction is expected to begin in August 2023.
The state would own the bridge and HHFT would be responsible for its operation and maintenance.
In addition to the 2-mile shoreline section that would begin at Dockside Park, subsequent phases for the Fjord Trail include a pathway through a forested section from Dutchess Manor to Dennings Point and a trail through marshland from Dennings Point to Long Dock Park. The entire project is supposed to be completed in 2027.