Preserve Beacon's Heritage at the Tioronda Bridge

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We, the undersigned, respectfully request that the City of Beacon build a one-lane reconstruction of the Tioronda Bridge at South Avenue. Preserving the historical character of the Tioronda Bridge will not only connect our trail and park systems but will enhance the experience for both residents and visitors.

An authentic restoration to preserve the Tioronda Bridge will complete the 30-year effort to save this bridge. The Beacon Historical Society successfully petitioned previous Beacon city councils to not build a two-lane bridge but rebuild a one-lane bridge. The rebuilding of the bridge is once again before the current city council and, again, the Beacon Historical Society and a supportive community are asking the city to honor its commitment and build a one-lane bridge.

The reasoning for one-lane, reconstruction of the Tioronda Bridge is as follows:

1. The Tioronda Bridge was a rare “bowstring truss” one-lane wooden deck bridge built in 1869-1873. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 for its significance to the fields of engineering, transportation, industry and innovation. With today’s technology it can be rebuilt.

2. The City of Beacon closed the bridge to traffic in the 1980s due to deterioration of its stone foundation piers. The city dismantled the bow trusses more than a decade ago, and placed them in storage, with the hopes of restoration. The city has since rebuilt the abutments and deck girders wide enough for a one-lane bridge with no additional structural work. A two-lane bridge would add substantially to this project cost while precluding any real historic effort.

3.  Standard state and federal transportation funding ordinarily expects a minimum of two lanes for bridges, and the city (without exploring other funding sources) moved forward with designs for a two-lane bridge. Current designs do not incorporate any original components or significant design elements from the historic Tioronda Bridge.

4.  The late State Assemblyman Frank Skartados recently secured a $500,000 state grant and approval from the NYSDOT for a one-lane bridge, with the purpose to promote pedestrian, biking and recreational access, as well as historic and environmental preservation. Coupled with additional financial support, this grant would allow for the construction of a one-lane bridge at a reduced cost compared to a two-lane bridge.

5.  The site of the Tioronda Bridge is located in the Historic Overlay Zone and is a natural centerpiece of Beacon’s trails and parks. A recreation-focused bridge would connect key environmental assets on either side of Fishkill Creek: on the one side are Madam Brett Park, the Klara Sauer Trail from the train station through Dennings Point Park to the creek, and the Fishkill Creek Greenway & Heritage Trail system; and on the other side of the creek are the planned Hudson Fjord Trail system to Cold Spring, potentially additional Greenway trails, and direct side-street access to the Hudson Highlands. It will play a vital role as part of a larger effort to develop outdoor and eco-tourism in the Hudson Valley.

6.  A one-lane bridge can provide more than adequate access to redevelopment along Fishkill Creek, as well as emergency vehicles across Fishkill Creek and the adjacent historic residential neighborhoods. A one-lane bridge served this area for more than a century, and the lack of a bridge crossing for more than three decades has caused no significant hardships. A two-lane bridge is an overbuild project, and will only serve to encourage through-traffic in an area that is best suited for quality of life purposes: recreational enjoyment, environmental protection, scenic beauty and historic preservation.

7.  The original design patent for the Tioronda Bridge is available, with sufficient specifications to faithfully repair and, or, replicate the bowstring trusses and other components of the bridge. A thoughtful bridge design respecting the historic elements of the bridge could provide either preservation or replication, or at least design consistency with the historic bridge, e.g., wooden decking with modern materials, historically accurate bow trusses that are no longer load bearing, safety features that integrate with bow truss design elements, and are expressive of 19th-century American engineering, design and ingenuity.

8.  Current bridge design work, based on direction from the city, has assumed a two-lane bridge — the one-lane grant secured by Assemblyman Skartados allows the city to step back and rethink the basics of design, and to incorporate historical elements in a way that a two-lane bridge has not — while reducing the overall cost of the project. The city has an opportunity to achieve multiple objectives: recreational biking/hiking/walking, scenic beauty, environmental protection, historic preservation, aesthetic design and limited vehicle access, and so on — if it takes the time to do it right. This should include bringing in historic bridge restoration expertise into the design process.

Preserve Beacon’s Heritage at the Tioronda Bridge — following Beacon’s Comprehensive Plan, to “Encourage and expand the preservation of historically and culturally significant buildings, landscapes, and neighborhoods.”