Written by Blanche Rubin

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The stone bridge on Hollow Road in Clinton Hollow, right at the corner of Schoolhouse Road and down the hill from the corner of Centre Road, has become a center of controversy between the town residents and the County Department of Public Works (DPW). The bridge was constructed in 1931 and its stonework lends it a thoroughly unique character and charm. It is nearly a one lane bridge on a county road and, because of its design, requires all traffic in both directions to slow down. This pleases all nearby residents immensely.

Hollow Road (County Road 14), however, is handling increasing amounts of traffic. As one of the major east/west thoroughfares in our town, it is a main artery for all commercial traffic. Because of its load rating, the bridge cannot handle the heaviest trucks. See the attached letter from Tad Ornstein, State Department of Transportation, for a very thorough explanation of the bridge's structural design and how the load rating is determined.

Apparently, while the load rating is adequate for the bridge to handle a safe legal load, The County DWP has given the bridge a 4.7 structural soundness rating and determined that it should be rebuilt. At this point Clinton United has not confirmed the intended design plans, however there is a great deal of talk among local citizens about the bridge being widened and the relationship between Hollow Road and the bridge being revised to create a straighter roadway.

The majority of the objections, raised by opponents to the bridge's reconstruction, center around maintaining the historic and rural quality of the hamlet of Clinton Hollow. According to Barbara Myers, "The hamlet of Clinton Hollow was designated by our Town Board long ago as a Critical Environmental Area for good reason-- issues like this."

Bill McDermott, Clinton's former Town Historian, has also written "the hamlet of Clinton Hollow is eligible for designation as an 'historic district.'"

In much further elaboration, Bill McDermott wrote:

"The Town of Clinton designated the seven historic hamlets as Critical Environmental Areas because they have "exceptional or unique character" especially in regard to the "social, cultural, historic, [and] archeological values" of these hamlets.

"In the survey conducted as part of the Clinton Master Plan (1991), 87% of residents agreed, 'hamlets in Clinton are important to the character of the Town.'  In addition, 88% of residents felt that 'the historic character of existing hamlets in Clinton should be protected from incompatible development.'

"In the Town of Clinton Zoning Law (1991), section 3.4 states that 'the Town of Clinton values the architectural character of its historic hamlets,' and designates six of the historic hamlets by map and with their own set of development guidelines.

"The Critical Environmental Area designation written (in 1988) by late Town Historian Bill Benson states that 'Clinton Hollow represents the largest concentration of very old homes in the Town of Clinton. Of the 26 homes in the proposed Critical Environmental Area, 22 of them were there 125 years ago. Sixteen of these homes were built at least 150 years ago, and eleven of them were part of Clinton Hollow 170 years ago in 1817.' Mr. Benson continues to describe the qualities of the mill, built in 1767, and the general store, which was built in 1829."

And finally, Jim Montross, a local resident, has written: "After doing some studies of our own, we've been advised that there hasn't ever been a great number of accidents on the bridge site in Clinton Hollow. I have reports from Dutchess County Fire Alarm Headquarters advising me that the Clinton Hollow bridge on Hollow Road isn't even in the top ten most dangerous accident sites in Dutchess County! There was one serious accident and only one fatality involving a school bus in the 1980's.  Since then there has never been any fatalities or a large amount of accidents on the Clinton Hollow bridge on Hollow Road." 

At the Clinton Town Board meeting on July 11, 2006 it was announced that Greg Bentley of the County DPW had communicated the following information: the County is in negotiations with a firm for the design of a new bridge on Hollow Road. The DPW anticipates that a contract will be in place some time in September or October, at which point a public hearing will be held. It will be at that time that Clinton residents can again express their points of view.

How do you feel about the Clinton Hollow bridge?
Feel free to contact us and/or:

DPW Commissioner Michael Murphy
DPW Commissioner Greg Bentley
County Legislature

From: "Tad Ornstein" <>
To: <>
Subject: BIN 3342820, Hollow Road (CR 14) over Little Wappingers Creek
December 6, 2005

Honorable Joel Tyner
324 Browns Pond Road
Staatsburg, NY 12580
RE: BIN 3342820, Hollow Road (CR 14) over Little Wappingers Creek

Dear Mr. Tyner,

The purpose of this letter is to answer the question you raised concerning the condition of the above referenced bridge.

Load Rating
Every publicly owned and operated bridge in New York is inspected every two years. Load posted bridges and bridges with serious deficiencies are inspected annually. Because not every bridge was designed by current standards and because the load capacity decreases as bridges deteriorate and increases when bridges are repaired, the inspection process includes load rating. Load rating is performed to determine the safe load capacity of the bridge and compare the safe load capacity to the load effect of the legal loads that are allowed on our roads. If the safe load capacity is less than the equivalent legal load the bridge must be load posted. The posted load is the maximum gross weight of a vehicle permitted to cross the bridge and it is set conservatively. If a bridge is not load posted or 'R posted' (R posted bridges cannot be crossed with trucks with R permits), you can safely assume that it can handle any and all legal loads.

The bridge in question is a steel multi-girder bridge, with seven stringers built in 1931. The bridge has a jack arch concrete deck (semi-circular corrugated metal arches were used as forms to support the bottom of the deck).   The deck is assumed to act compositely with the steel stringers to resist the loads. There are stone parapets on both sides of the bridge. There are no contract plans and a sketch-in-lieu of plans based on field measurements is included in the inspection report. All of the stringers have section loss on the bottom flanges. The bridge is not load posted, but it is R-posted. The most recent of inspection was performed 4/13/2005.

As part of the biennial inspection this bridge was load rated with a computer program. The H20 load ratings are: H20 inventory rating = 13.3 tons, H20 operating rating = 22.2 tons.   These numbers are low, and if they correctly reflected the load carrying capacity of the bridge, they would be of concern. The program currently used under estimates the capacity of bridges built between 1906 and 1936, which are assumed to have steel with a yield strength of 30,000 psi, and as a result we perform hand calculations to determine the actual capacity when low ratings are calculated by the computer program. The results of our hand calculation indicate that the H20 load ratings are: H20 inventory rating = 18.5 tons, H20 operating rating = 30.8 tons. The safe load capacity = 24.7 tons. The equivalent legal load is 23 tons. The safe load capacity is greater than the equivalent legal load and therefore the bridge doesn't need to be posted for load, but because the H20 operating rating is less than 33 tons it should be R-posted.

Based on this review, the current R-posting is appropriate and no further action is needed at this time. If you have any additional questions, please contact me at (845) 431-5979.

Tad Ornstein, P.E.

R8 Load Rating Engineer

cc: Nicholas Choubah, P.E., Regional Structures Engineer
Ellen Zinni, P.E., Regional Bridge Management Engineer
Michael P. Murphy, Dutchess County Commissioner of Public Works

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