Red Bridge

Red Bridge is expected to reopen by late summer.  The little one-lane bridge on Salmon Creek Road in Ludlowville has been closed for more than a year, with construction activity paused because funding had to be spread over two budget years.  Last December Tompkins County authorized a bid for painting the 97 year old bridge, and the work is expected to begin next month.  Tompkins County Legislator (Lansing) Mike Sigler reports it should be open by the end of summer.

"The county heard from the bridge painting contractor and he is planning on starting Salmon Creek Bridge painting by July 10th, 2017," Sigler said.  "If that’s the case, they should be complete by the end of the month allowing us to add the deck and new railing; having the Bridge back open by the end of August."

The single-lane metal Baltimore through-truss bridge was built in 1920, is one of a number of bridges that spans Salmon Creek, including the 87 year old bridge on Ridge Road west of Lansing Middle School that is scheduled to be repaired by the state Department Of Transportation in 2018.  The much smaller Red Bridge underwent a major renovation project in 1962, the only one until now, and was repainted in 1996.  The 103 foot long x 18 foot wide steel truss bridge is located on Salmon Creek Road, just north of the Lansing Rod & Gun Club.  Tompkins County Assistant Highway Director Carl Martel reports the bridge got its name becausenit was painted red prior to 1962.  Afterward it was repainted green, but the name stuck.

"This historic fact was just recently discovered during the reconstruction efforts and conversations our bridge crew had with interested pedestrians," says Martel. "It was this fact that inspired this office to repaint the bridge back to its original color red attempting to capture this nearly lost historic alias."

By< 2011 County highway Department officials became more concerned as the deterioration appeared to have progressed to the point where major structural elements were compromised.

"We knew its days would be numbered if a major rehabilitation was not soon planned," Martel says. "Finally in 2014, a routine state inspection discovered significant section loss to those critical load bearing members resulting in the bridge capacity being lowered and posted at 18 Tons. However, it was continued lack of funding that plagued the project from ever coming to fruition."

The deterioration was so severe that county officials decided to use multi-year capital funds that are earmarked for projects like this one.  But funding the $350,000 bridge project this way meant spreading the work over two years.  That work was extensive: the entire north concrete abutment and 75% of the south abutment had to be replaced, because of cracking, broken concrete and deterioration.  All four steel bridge bearings had corroded beyond repair, there was significant deterioration in 75% of the structural framing members, and the structural members of the trusses needed to be repaired or replaced.  On top of that, the water resistant membrane below the asphalt was beyond its useful life, and corrosion protection needed to be improved.  The bridge rail had also deteriorated and no longer met current standards.

The County reports that the road carries 340 vehicles per day.  During the construction a modular Bailey bridge, a portable truss bridge owned by the County Highway Department, was installed to the east of Red Bridge to maintain traffic.  The temporary bridge was last used during construction in Groton.

The structural work was completed last year, and it appeared construction had halted.  But with the painting bid authorized for this year's budget, the work was scheduled to resume.

"Painting will extend the life of these repairs and will include removal of all old coatings within an environmentally compliant enclosure," Martel says. "Paint removal waste will be handled and disposed of as regulated waste. Following painting, the bridge crew will re-set timber deck panels and pave the bridge’s driving surface."

Red BridgeThe current Red Bridge replaced this one, which was destroyed in a flood almost a century ago. Photo from 'Remember When - Ludlowville', compiled by Jeanne Nobles Bishop in 1997 for the Lansing Historicat Association.

Town of Lansing Historian Louise Bement says that Red Bridge replaced earlier bridges at the curve in Salmon Creek where there used to be a sulfur spring.  The Lansing Historical Association's 1997 book, 'Remeber When - Ludlowville', says "Red Bridge by Sulphur Spring in Ludlowville, went out in the August 1922 flood."  Alice Bristol, who lived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, also wrote about the bridge.

"Another pleasant walk much frequented by both old and young was the one to Sulphur Springs," writes Bristol.  "After supper on long summer evenings was the time youth took for romantic perambulations. Their elders chose Sunday afternoons for their cup of sulphur water. What Ludlowvillian does not know the place well - 'up the Creek Road' to the bridge and through the bars on Amasa Wood's place to the beginning of the woodland road which ends at the old Murphy log cabin?"

Martel says there is more to do after the bridge is painted.

"The bridge crew will re-set timber deck panels and pave the bridge’s driving surface," he says. "Once complete, an Engineering Consultant will perform a load rating calculation to determine if the current 18-ton weight limit can be lifted. The County’s Bailey bridge will be removed once the work is completed."

If the weather cooperates and all goes well, Red bridge will be reopened in August.  And Red Bridge will be red again.