- Trains first began steaming across the former Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge on Jan. 1, 1889. At the time it was the longest bridge in the world. First proposed in 1855, the idea of building a railroad bridge at Poughkeepsie was ridiculed. After the Civil War, the idea was taken more seriously. Successful construction began in 1886. From then it took 3 years and thousands of workers to complete the bridge, at a cost of $3.6 million.
- The railroad bridge was the first of any bridge to span the Hudson. When built, it needed to be high enough to accommodate the mast of any sailing ship that might travel beneath it. Today the clearance requirement is merely 135 feet.
- The core construction project, which transformed the Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge into Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park, cost $38.8 million and took 16 months to complete.
- It was estimated the cost to demolish the structure would have been over $50 million.
- Harrison & Burrowes Bridge Constructors Inc. of Glennville, NY served as the general contractor for the Walkway project while design and engineering was overseen by Bergmann Associates of Rochester, NY. At 6,768 feet (or 1.28 miles) Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park is the world’s longest pedestrian bridge.
- Walkway State Park soars 212 feet above the Hudson River. The piers extend 130 feet below the river’s surface to compacted gravel.
- The Walkway’s 1.28-mile long deck is comprised of 973 prefabricated concrete panels, each weighing up to 15 tons. The deck is 25 feet wide with a 4 foot 6 inch high railing. There are 3 overlook areas where the walkway expands to be 3 ½ feet wider on each side to allow for scenic viewing out of the main flow of visitors.
- The park is accessible to individuals with disabilities pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). A series of LED-filled tubes provide lighting for occasional night-time use. There are more than 81,000 light-emitting diodes which all together use less than $1.80 per hour of electricity.
- It’s estimated that nearly 1 million rivets are used to hold the 20,000 tons of steel together. Each of the 4 river piers contains 40,000 tons of timber, stone and concrete.
- The bridge is an historic landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- The bridge is a Civil Engineering landmark. Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park opened on Oct. 3, 2009.
- The park is managed by New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation – Taconic Region. In the first eighteen months since it opened, more than 850,000 people visited Walkway State Park, dramatically exceeding original projections. On July 4th 2011, the million visitor was celebrated.
- Walkway Over the Hudson, the grassroots organization behind this amazing project, continues on as a Friends of the Park organization, with a new mission to support and enhance the State Park and surrounding trail systems. Currently the Walkway is not in danger of being closed based on state parks budget cuts.
- The bridge was designed to carry heavy freight trains – loads significantly heavier than the Walkway’s visitors. Bergmann Associates and their sub consultants completed detailed engineering inspections of the bridge, including its underwater piers. The inspections confirmed that the bridge is structurally sound and will easily accommodate current and future pedestrian uses.
- With normal planned maintenance, Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park will be open for generations.
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