The Morningthorpe Avenue Bridge, the newest pedestrian and cyclist gateway to the Village of Brewster, reopened earlier this month after undergoing a $2.6 million renovation.
“Turning this 126-year-old bridge into a pedestrian and bicycle path is a great step forward,” Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell said. “It will help make our communities more walkable, provide healthy recreation opportunities and bring people to village parks, the Metro-North train station and Brewster’s Main Street shopping district.”
Putnam County secured federal funding for the reconstruction of the bridge via the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council, of which Odell is a voting member. Officials from the county, Town of Southeast and Village of Brewster were on hand to cut the ribbon and usher in a new era for the bridge, which runs from Route 22 to Railroad Avenue and crosses over the Croton River.
“This bridge will not only enable residents of the nearby Turk Hill residential neighborhood to walk safely to the train station and shops in Brewster, it will encourage some pedestrians to leave their cars at home,” said Fred Pena, the Putnam County Commissioner of Highways and Facilities. “That can encourage more train travel, reduce traffic congestion in the town and village and help improve the air quality.”
Putnam County Legislator Joseph Castellano said that turning the bridge into a pedestrian walkway rather than replacing with one that could carry vehicular traffic enabled the county to get federal funding. The State DOT told Putnam County to close the bridge to pedestrian traffic in 2013.
“Our real concern since 2013 was that the bridge could collapse into the reservoir,” he said. “Putnam County had to remove the old bridge. As we examined all cost options, the Putnam County Highway Department discovered a federal grant opportunity to create a pedestrian walkway to a mass transit center, in this case the Brewster Village train station. We successfully obtained the grant, which covered 80% of the cost and saved taxpayers $2 million.”
The Morningthorpe Avenue Bridge was originally built in 1894. The superstructure was replaced in 1960 and it was last rehabilitated in 1987. The bridge was closed to vehicular traffic in 2006 when structural deficiencies made it unsafe.
“The bridge is a great way to bring more people into the village,” Brewster Mayor Jim Schoenig said. “Pedestrians can walk to the hiking trail, or fish off the bridge. It’s a great addition to our community.”
Putnam County Director of Tourism Tracey Walsh said the reopening of the bridge couldn’t have come at a better time.
“With so many people staying close to home and pursuing outdoor recreation, there is incredible demand for any safe bicycle route in Putnam County,” Walsh said. “This bridge is a welcome addition. The pathway will also provide access to the Croton River, which brings fishermen from all over to our county.”