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Open Space Institute Partnership with West Point Leads to Fourth New Bridge Project at Fahnestock State Park

Photo Credit: Greg Miller

COLD SPRING, NY (May 19, 2021)—For the fourth year in a row, the Open Space Institute (OSI) has partnered with cadets from the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) to replace a pedestrian bridge on the School Mountain Road Trail section of Fahnestock State Park’s Hubbard Perkins Loop in New York’s Hudson Valley.

Design and construction of the bridges serves as one capstone project for civil engineering cadets at USMA. The partnership allows the cadets to take the skills and knowledge they have learned during their civil engineering education and apply this expertise toward the execution of a project that benefits the community.

Photo Credit: Greg Miller

Located approximately 1.5 miles from Hubbard Lodge, this year’s bridge replacement crosses a tributary of the Clove Creek and has a 5-ton carrying capacity. The completed multi-use bridge is suitable for use by walkers, hikers, runners, and equestrian.

“Through this ongoing partnership, OSI is proud to support the work of the West Point cadets in improving Fahnestock State Park, a landscape OSI has worked to protect and improve for more than 25 years,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s president and CEO. “Our parks benefit from the active involvement and participation of the entire community, but especially of our young, future leaders. Through their service, each class of cadets is leading by example and providing the park with an infusion of energy and much-needed repairs.”

“I smile every time I walk through the woods and come upon one of these fabulous bridges. They represent so much more than a water crossing. State Parks is proud to partner with West Point Cadets and professors. We are grateful to OSI for funding the materials and allowing this win-win-win to be accomplished for public benefit,” said Linda Cooper, State Parks Regional Director.

“Speaking for my team, we really enjoyed this project. We thought our capstone was the best because we were able to incorporate knowledge from ALL the classes we have taken and apply them to our capstone. Additionally, we were able to learn new things to add to our toolkit, including welding, handling rebar, handling cables, and much more! We are truly blessed to have been able to design, model, and actually construct this bridge at Fahnestock. This project leaves us with a sense of pride and happiness knowing that many people will enjoy the bridge on their walks throughout the trail,” said Cadet Conrada Trejo, project manager for this year’s School Mountain Road bridge replacements.

As part of the coursework, the engineering students designed the bridge; prefabricated and tested several structural components of the bridge at the West Point Academy; and transported the materials to Fahnestock State Park for installation. Due to the unique location of this year’s bridge project, the heavy bridge support girders were designed to be modular and assembled on site.

Photo Credit: Greg Miller

This year the cadets were also aided by local trail contractor, Tahawus Trails, which helped provide better access to the site with excavation and debris removal and were also joined by Fahnestock State Park staff.

“The partnership between the USMA Civil Engineering Program, OSI, Fahnestock State Park, and this year – Tahawus Trails, has been simply remarkable. These bridge projects are inspirational to the Cadets, and have become the most sought after type of project in our program. They provide a tremendous and unique learning and developmental opportunity for the Cadets, as it is rare for students to take a project from its initial conception all the way through completed construction. We simply would not be able to do something like this without the tremendous support from everyone involved, and we look forward to a continued partnership,” said Colonel Brad Wambeke, the Director of the Civil and Mechanical Engineering Department at West Point.

Dr. J. Ledlie Klosky, Professor of Civil Engineering at West Point added, “This ongoing partnership has been exceptionally fruitful, and the result is a highly accessible trail for a variety of users, with the completed bridges marking special way-points in a beautiful outdoor setting.”

OSI provided more than $4,000 toward the project from its Waletzky State Parks Fund for bridge materials while OPRHP supplied additional onsite coordination and equipment and obtained the appropriate permits from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. In total, OSI has contributed more than $42,000 in support of the West Point cadet bridge replacement projects at Fahnestock.

The park’s West Point bridges each have a distinct style which reflects the needs of the setting and the design preferences of each class. This year the cadets designed a 15-foot-long and seven-foot-wide arch truss bridge with wood and cable railings. Previous bridge designs include twin 30-foot steel girder bridges, a raised flat bridge with a prominent “A” design in the railing, and an arch suspension bridge.

These bridge replacements are part of the larger Hubbard Perkins Loop improvement project OSI is collaborating on with OPRHP. Last year, OSI announced and began a series of projects at Fahnestock to improve and upgrade the trails in the northern section of Fahnestock State Park. The upgrades will improve safety and access to OSI-protected lands and help transform NYS Route 301 into a true park drive, provide enhanced wayfinding signs for navigation, and better accommodate new and existing users to the park. The Hubbard-Perkins Trail project is also being supported by the Taconic Regional Parks Commission and Friends of Fahnestock-Hudson Highlands State Parks and is expected to be substantially completed by the end of the calendar year.

Since the 1990s, working in partnership with the State of New York, OSI has doubled the size of Fahnestock State Park, bringing the park to more than 14,000 acres of protected woodlands, valleys, and plateaus. In 2016, OSI raised more than $1.2 million to renovate the Canopus Beach/Winter Park Complex at Fahnestock and improve trails and trailheads. OSI is continuing its commitment to this beloved landscape by carrying out critically needed repairs and access improvements so that future generations can continue to enjoy the park.

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