A major milestone has been reached in the ongoing project to replace the deck of the westbound span of the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge (Interstate 84) in Newburgh, NY. The New York State Bridge Authority (NYSBA) commenced this project in June 2020 in order to extend the useful service life of the westbound bridge by another 40 years while improving safety for travelers by upgrading bridge railings & parapets and expansion joints to modern design & operational standards. The entirety of the nearly 8,000 ft long deck is being removed down to the steel stringers and a new concrete deck will be cast and poured, complete with modified expansion joints and taller bridge parapets that meet modern interstate highway standards. Altogether, this project involves replacing about 350,000 square feet of deck space and is being executed in two distinct phases. The phase that was just completed in November (hence the “important milestone” headline…) saw the replacement of the southern half of the bridge deck in the manor described above. With this phase complete, contractors will now repeat the same process for the northern half of the deck in the coming year.
As with any other major interstate highway/bridge project, the maintenance & protection of traffic has proven challenging for the client agency and its prime contractor. In order to fast track completion and provide as much contractor access to the westbound bridge deck as possible, a temporary two-way traffic pattern was implemented on the eastbound span of the bridge in a “two lanes per direction” configuration. The westbound bridge has largely been closed to all traffic during off-peak hours, however a single lane of traffic is allowed to cross this span during peak periods as it serves as an extended on-ramp for traffic entering the westbound interstate from Route 9D & Beacon. (During off-peak periods, this on-ramp traffic is funneled onto the two-way eastbound span traffic pattern.) This two-way traffic pattern on the eastbound bridge has also created an artificial and temporary traffic bottleneck, as the original configuration of the two spans allowed for three lanes of traffic per direction under normal conditions. Traffic backups related to this project can stretch several miles in either direction on a normal day and this situation is not helped by the fact that the lack of shoulders in this temporary traffic setup prevents disabled vehicles from moving out of travel lanes, which increases the likelihood of traffic jams and rubbernecking delays.
Eastbound views while crossing the eastbound span of the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge. The two-way traffic pattern has temporarily constrained the flow of traffic in the area; on the other hand, the implementation of cashless tolling and removal of the old toll plaza has been a positive development. Click on each photo to see a larger version.
Being built in parallel with this redecking project is the conversion of this bridge (and its sister bridges under NYSBA jurisdiction) to all-electronic toll collection; the tolling gantry located on the Beacon approach just upstream from the old toll plaza was built in the spring of 2021 and the cashless tolling system for this bridge went live in July. The old 1980-built toll plaza has been subsequently demolished in recent months and ongoing road works remain to be completed on the Beacon approach in the coming year. As a life-long resident of southern Dutchess County, NY (except for those few years I was in college out in Buffalo, NY), my single least-favorite toll plaza in the entire country (and I’ve been through a few…) was right here in Beacon. The plaza was a chronic source of traffic congestion at most times and on most days as there were no high-speed EZ-Pass (the electronic toll tag used/accepted by agencies around the northeastern U.S.) lanes and cars still had to nearly come to a stop in the EZ-Pass lanes the plaza did have since NYSBA used automated toll gates that impeded the flow of traffic through. All in all, this is a toll plaza I’m very pleased to see fade into history and this entire stretch of I-84 between Newburgh and Fishkill should move a lot quicker and smoother once this project is completed.
Assorted aerial views of the dual-span bridges including a look at construction progress on the westbound bridge deck and toll plaza reconstruction. Click on each photo to see a larger version.
The two-year, $101 million contract issued by NYSBA is being executed by a contracting outfit led by Yonkers Contracting Company of Yonkers, NY. Major construction & substantial completion, including finishing the remaining work for the new bridge deck, is expected for late 2022 with final completion & close-out of additional punchlist items planned for the first half of 2023. The completion of these final milestones will be welcome news to Hudson Valley (and also long-distance) travelers already tired of the traffic headaches associated with this project. While I’m no fan of sitting in stuck traffic due to construction, this is one of those projects I consider to be absolutely vital for the local and regional economy. This is the first major overhaul for this span of the bridge since the early 1980s and it’s a project that’s been postponed for several years already due to funding restrictions. I will be more than happy to put up with a little inconvenience now in exchange for having a fully functional safe and sound bridge for the next few decades.
Assorted aerial views of the dual-span bridges spanning the Hudson River at Newburgh, NY. Click on each photo to see a larger version.
Bridge Information courtesy of NYSBA