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February 1, 2007

It’s 50 Years and Counting
for the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge

February 2, 1957 marked the opening of the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge.  Fifty years later, the link between northern Ulster and Dutchess counties continues to live up to all expectations.

“I’m proud to say that the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge is in great shape” Bridge Authority Chairman James Sproat said, “and I expect we’ll still be crossing the Hudson on the KRB in another 50 years.”

A Brief History of the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge

In January of 1944, Senator Arthur Wicks from Kingston and Senator Hatfield of Dutchess teamed up on legislation authorizing a $50,000 fund for a survey of the area. 
The measure failed in its first attempt, but perseverance by Wicks and Hatfield led to the eventual approval for the study in March, 1947.

In July of 1949, the State Superintendent of Public Works, Bertram D. Tallamy declared that a Kingston span was a "needed highway facility," giving the go-ahead to begin planning of the bridge.  The final location of the bridge and the navigational clearance were eventually approved in 1952.  On January 21, 1954, the contract for rough grading of the approaches was let to Grandview Construction Co. of Mt. Vernon.  Work at the Kingston site began in July 1954 with the grading of the approach ramps.

The first river piers for the bridge were placed in August of 1956 on the Kingston side of the river.  The concrete bases for the supports were poured 2-3 weeks later.  Half the piers for the new bridge were completed by the following year. 

In February 1957, the bridge was opened before it was fully completed as a convenience to industrial workers who needed the facility after the river froze and the ferry couldn't run. 

On February 2nd at noon, Nancy Ruth Heppner, daughter of Bridge Authority member Ernest Heppner, cut the ceremonial ribbon on the west shore.  Governor Harriman, the principal speaker at the informal opening, then stepped into the lead car of a ceremonial 2-mile caravan.  More than 500 spectators stood in the chill air to watch the ceremony, and many more waited in long lines on the approaches to cross the new bridge for free before the Bridge Authority began collecting tolls at 4 p.m.  

Designer

 

D.B. Steinman

Builder

 

Harris Structural Steel Co; Merritt-Scott & Chapman Corp.

Overall length

 

7,793 feet

Main span length

 

800 foot spans over both east and west channel

Clearance above river

 

250 feet

Opened

 

February 2, 1957

Acquired by NYSBA

 

February 2, 1957

Bridge Type

 

Continuous Under-Deck Truss

Original Cost

 

$17,500,000

1998 Replacement Value

 

$159,380,000