Turkey Hill Road, Red Hook, New York
Bridges serve an essential, yet sometimes overlooked, role in our transportation system. They provide the necessary, physical connections for our roads to function effectively. A closed bridge can potentially delay response times for emergency responders, lengthen personal trips, and disrupt freight movement – key considerations when it comes to safety and convenience.
Dutchess County is home to 362 bridges, defined as road or trail structures with a span over 20 feet long. NYSDOT and Dutchess County are collectively responsible for 77 percent of these bridges (37 and 40 percent respectively). The remaining 23 percent fall under the responsibility of local municipalities, the New York State Bridge Authority (NYSBA), National Park Service (NPS), or other entities. As of 2020, the average age of all bridges in Dutchess County was about 59 years, with 143 (40 percent) built before 1950. And notably, 56 bridges were built or rebuilt between 2000 and 2017 — averaging about three bridges per year.
See the Map Viewer for the locations of bridges in the county.
NYSDOT inspects all non-tolled vehicular bridges regardless of road ownership, generally on a biennial basis. There are 331 such bridges in the county. NYSDOT evaluates these bridges based on a variety of factors and scores them on a scale of 0-7. A bridge with a score below 5 is classified as “structurally deficient.” Structurally deficient indicates deterioration to a level that requires corrective maintenance or rehabilitation to restore the bridge to a fully functional condition; it does not imply that the bridge is unsafe. For 2020, 71 bridges—22 percent of bridges in the county—are classified as structurally deficient. The average condition rating for bridges in the county is 5.
There are 31 bridges in the county that are not rated by NYSDOT. These include pedestrian bridges like those along our rail trails and the three tolled Hudson River crossings (the Newburgh-Beacon, Mid-Hudson, and Kingston-Rhinecliff bridges).
NYSDOT also identifies bridges that have limits on the type of vehicles that can use them. These limits are based on a design or condition that affects the bridge’s capacity to accommodate heavy vehicles. Classified as “R” posted bridges, they have a “No Trucks with R Permits" sign. In 2020 there were eight “R” posted bridges in the county, though one of these - Route 115 in Pleasant Valley – was rebuilt by NYSDOT during 2020 and will likely lose this restriction.
New York State Bridge Authority Bridges
In 2019 the three NYSBA bridges over the Hudson River in Dutchess carried nearly 50 million vehicles – an increase of three million vehicles since 2010. Over half of these vehicles (27 million) were on the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge, while the Mid-Hudson and Kingston-Rhinecliff bridges carried 15 and 8 million vehicles respectively. Historical volumes for these bridges can be found on the NYSBA website.
FEDERAL BRIDGE RATINGS
The federal bridge rating system, which differs from the NYSDOT system, rates bridges on a scale of one to nine, with nine being excellent condition and five being fair. The FHWA classifies bridges that score below a four as “poor.” Like NYSDOT’s Structurally Deficient designation, a “poor” rating does not mean a bridge is unsafe but indicates that it requires corrective maintenance or rehabilitation to restore it to a fully functional condition. As of 2020, 44 bridges in Dutchess County (12%) were classified as poor. Several of these bridges are already under rehabilitation or reconstruction.
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