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October 13, 2009

International Bridge Experts Inspect Mid-Hudson Bridge

Representatives from the United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden and Hong Kong/China joined engineers from New York, New Jersey and Delaware to inspect the cables of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Mid-Hudson Bridge recently.

The group, part of an international conference on bridge safety and operations held in New York City, traveled to Poughkeepsie to see how the state Bridge Authority has made improvements in maintaining the critical suspension cables.

The group will lead the development of a best practices policy for suspension bridge cable maintenance and inspections that will be used around the world.

The Mid-Hudson and Bear Mountain bridges have hosted a successful eight-year trial of maintenance products developed with the guidance of State Bridge Authority Chief Engineer Bill Moreau.

Removing the traditional red lead paste used to prevent moisture in the cables and replacing it with a non-toxic polymer based protective seal is at the core of the Bridge Authority innovation.

“Suspension Bridge cables are made up of thousands of individual strands of steel wire that are bound together,” Moreau said, “keeping moisture out of those strands to prevent corrosion is one of the biggest hurdles faced by bridge engineers.”

Moreau added that this will cut maintenance costs, add life to the spans and remove an environmental toxin from the bridges all at the same time. 

Preserving the suspension cables is a big-ticket item for bridges.  The replacement cost for new cables on either Hudson River bridge would run well over $100 million.

Photo Caption:  Engineers perch high over traffic as they look inside the suspension cable of the Mid-Hudson Bridge.  The state Bridge Authority is leading the way to safer and more efficient cable maintenance.

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Quick Facts about the New York State Bridge Authority

  • The NYS Bridge Authority operates the Bear Mountain, Newburgh-Beacon, Mid-Hudson, Kingston-Rhinecliff and Rip Van Winkle bridges.             
  • The Authority is funded from bridge tolls and receives no tax monies for bridge maintenance and operation.
  • The Authority holds the highest bond rating given any public toll-transportation entity in the United States, reducing bond and annual costs.
  • The $1 passenger vehicle toll for east-bound passage on all Authority bridges is among the lowest nationwide for self-supporting transportation agencies (there is no toll for west-bound passage).
  • Tolls today are actually lower, in real dollars, than they were in 1933 when the Authority began operations.
  • Accidents on Authority bridges in 2008 were among the lowest in recent history, resulting in one accident for every 325,000 crossings.