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NEWS

For Immediate Release
December 22, 2010

Contact
For Walkway Over the Hudson – Steve Densmore, 845-234-8713
For NYS Parks – Eileen Larrabee, 518-486-1868
For the Bridge Authority - John Bellucci, 845-691-5953

 

WALKWAY OVER THE HUDSON STRUCTURE TO BE MAINTAINED
BY NEW YORK STATE BRIDGE AUTHORITY

Capitalizing on 78 years of bridge experience, maintenance of the Walkway Over the Hudson bridge structure will now be the responsibility of the NYS Bridge Authority.

At a ceremony today, Walkway Over the Hudson, Inc. - the not-for-profit owners of the bridge structure - transferred the property to the Authority as directed by a state law enacted this past summer.  The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation will continue to operate the bridge deck and adjacent public areas as Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park.

The bridge transfer represents a major milestone in Walkway Over the Hudson’s nearly 20-year effort to transform the abandoned former Poughkeepsie Highland Railroad Bridge into a useful new public park.  Walkway Over the Hudson will now focus on its new role of enhancing visitor experiences by fundraising to support new programs and amenities along with developing connections to other parks and trails.

“The Bridge Authority is recognized as experts in bridge maintenance,” said Walkway Board Chairperson Sally Mazzarella, “and we can think of no better organization to entrust with this great responsibility.”

 “The Bridge Authority has accepted this responsibility and will bring the same level of professional expertise and dedication to the Walkway bridge that we demonstrate at our other five bridges to ensure Walkway over the Hudson can be enjoyed for generations to come,” said Authority Chairman James Sproat.

Acting State Parks Commissioner Andy Beers said, “Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park welcomed more than 750,000 visitors this past year.  This unique
partnership of State Parks, the Bridge Authority, and the dedicated group of volunteers will insure that Walkway Over the Hudson remains one of the jewels of the park system for many years to come.”

Bridge Authority Executive Director Joseph Ruggiero said, “We will tap the best abilities of each organization.  State Parks will operate and manage the public portion of the park, the Walkway group will continue as a Friends Group for the facility as well as support interpretive programming and the Bridge Authority will do its part on the technical end.”

Mazzarella added that the Walkway would not have been possible without the financial and organizational support of the Dyson Foundation.  “The Dyson Foundation deserves special thanks for their efforts to lead this great endeavor to the success it is and we all owe a debt of gratitude to Rob Dyson for his vision and leadership.”

With its original mission to preserve the bridge for future generations complete, the Walkway organization is now devoting itself to the task of supporting Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park in various ways including fundraising to provide new amenities for the park, developing new programming to enhance visitor experience, and working to link the Walkway to other parks and trails networks throughout the region.

“Now that the physical structure of the bridge is in good hands, the Walkway friends group will be focused on the many challenges still facing us and maintaining the incredible momentum we’ve established since the park opened in October, 2009,” said Walkway Executive Director Elizabeth Waldstein-Hart.

With today’s actions, the Bridge Authority took ownership of the actual bridge structure, the land underneath that structure and the piers in the Hudson River. 

State Parks will eventually own the land on both sides of the bridge which includes vendor areas, educational displays and other public facilities.

Working with State Parks, the Walkway Over the Hudson organization will continue to raise monies to support the operation of the park as well as add features, public accommodations and cultural and educational programs.

The Bridge Authority is currently conducting a full engineering review of the structure, taking into account the improvements that have been made over the past three years.  The Bridge Authority said it will follow the same procedure as it does for each of its other facilities and a maintenance plan will be developed next year, after the reports have been evaluated.

Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park officially opened on October 3, 2009 as one part of the  legacy project of the Hudson Fulton Champlain Quadricentennial.  The park provides access to the Hudson River's breathtaking landscape for pedestrians, hikers, joggers, bicyclists, and people with disabilities. 

The Walkway bridge deck stands 212 feet above the river's surface and is 6,677 feet (1.28 miles) long, making it the longest, elevated pedestrian bridge in the world. 

The NYS Bridge Authority operates the Bear Mountain, Newburgh-Beacon, Mid-Hudson, Kingston-Rhinecliff and Rip Van Winkle bridges. 

The Authority holds the highest bond rating given to any public toll-transportation entity in the United States, and the Authority’s employee safety record has been noted by the State Insurance Fund for protecting workers and reducing costs.

For more information about Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Site, please go to http://www.nysparks.com/parks/178/details.aspx.

To volunteer for the Walkway or join the Walkway Over the Hudson friends group, please go to http://www.walkway.org.