John Carl D'Annibale photo
The project included rehabilitating all the ramps at the I-90 interchange with I-787 at the western end of the bridge.
One of the biggest road construction contracts in years in the Albany, N.Y. region — a project worth $148 million — recently was completed.
“This was a complex project with a lot of moving parts. I'm proud to tell you it was delivered on time and on budget,” said New York Department of Transportation Commissioner Matthew Driscoll. “It's such a gateway not only for people who live and work here, but for visitors to the Capital Region.”
That was good news for the more than 70,000 motorists who drive over the I-90 bridge that connects Albany and Rensselaer counties over the Hudson River every day. The bridge has three lanes each on the westbound and eastbound sides.
The state documented a history of cracks in the floor beams and weld connection on the bridge.
“Rehabilitating the Patroon Island Bridge is another way that the state is investing in our vital transportation infrastructure,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “The project allowed us to update and improve the bridge deck with minimal impact on travelers.”
The project included rehabilitating all the ramps at the I-90 interchange with I-787 at the western end of the bridge. Work included replacing the bridge decks and bearings, repairing steel, painting, and replacing and repairing the structures underneath the interchange. New concrete piers were built to support the interchange ramps, new traffic monitoring systems were installed and new concrete barriers were constructed on and between the bridges. The deck panels were precast elsewhere and then installed to make the work go more quickly.
The work was funded by the NY Works Program, whose goal is to improve aging bridges in the state. In the beginning, saving the bridge wasn't the only option.
“The conversation always focused on building a new bridge and replacing the bridge, which would have cost hundreds of millions of dollars, far exceeding the work that was accomplished here,” said Assemblyman John McDonald (D-Cohoes).
The DOT called it one of the largest road construction projects in Upstate New York's history. Commissioner Driscoll said that, because most of the work was done overnight and on weekends, it was done without ever permanently closing the bridge.
“When you look at our region and the river, this bridge is critically important,” he said. “When the state said they were going to do it, we were nervous. We were afraid the state would put up a detour sign. We're glad they took the approach they did. It really was done with little disruption, and now we're going to be set for years to come,” said Capital Region Chamber CEO Mark Eagan.
“This bridge not only has an impact on Albany and Rensselaer counties but on the economy and quality of life,” said Albany County Executive Dan McCoy.
Two thousand jobs were created or retained as a result of the work. Contractors were A. Servidone Inc./B. Anthony Construction Corp. of Castleton and Halmar International of Rockland County.
A Little History
The Patroon Island Bridge is a major crossing of the Hudson River in Albany, N.Y. The bridge carries Interstate 90, in the east-west direction, over the Hudson River between Albany and Rensselaer counties.
It has been in service since 1968; however, some structural repairs were made in 1992. The bridge consists of 10 spans. Seven are considered the main spans and consist of steel trusses and concrete decks. The other three are considered approach spans, which are supported by plated girders. At its highest point, the 1,795-ft. (547 m)-long span is 106 ft. (32.3 m) above the Hudson River.
The bridge's design is similar to that of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis, Minn., which collapsed during rush hour on Aug. 1, 2007. This realization by New York State transportation officials prompted full-scale inspections of the state's major highway bridges, including the Patroon Island Bridge. Subsequently, the bridge was deemed safe for the time being but would need substantial repairs and retrofitting to ensure motorist safety and to extend its useful life if replacement was found not to be a viable option in the near future.
The bridge's name comes from the former (Lower) Patroon Island that once existed adjacent to the bridge. A patroon was a proprietor of a tract of land in the 17th-century Dutch colony of New Netherland in North America.