Saugerties' Sauer Bridge closed through the end of the year

Above: A Google StreetView image of the Sauer Bridge in Saugerties.

The Sauer Bridge on the Glasco Turnpike, built on 1962 over the Esopus Creek in Saugerties, has been due for an upgrade for some time. But last Saturday, the Sauer situation got a lot more urgent, when a manhole-sized chunk of the bridge's surface fell through, forcing the immediate closure of the bridge. 

Drivers in the area are going to be waiting a long time for the bridge to reopen, Ulster County announced Friday. The bridge is being taken out of commission until full repairs can be made -- an eight-month process that can't start until the arrival of spring weather. 

In a news release, Ulster County Department of Public Works commissioner David Sheeley said that this winter's unusually harsh weather has taken a toll on the bridge. While it is closed, the county is encouraging drivers to use a detour to the Leggs Mill Bridge on Leggs Mill Road and State Route 199. 

Before the recent mishap, the Sauer Bridge was already slated for a full rehabilitation. In March of 2013, the county's news release said, the bridge was put on a county list of capital improvement projects so that construction could begin soon. The county had previously applied for state Department of Transportation funding to repair the bridge, and the funding has been approved, although it will not be available until 2018. 

The design and engineering work on the repairs has already been finished. Ulster County is currently in the process of seeking bids for repair work, said Ulster County Deputy Executive Bob Sudlow. 

"We'll be replacing the existing deteriorating concrete deck with a new 7-inch-thick reinforced concrete deck," Sudlow said. "We will also repair the deteriorated sections of the bracing down below."

Sudlow said that the closure of the bridge wasn't unexpected, given the extensive repairs that need to be done to it, but that the county was forced to close the bridge earlier than he'd hoped. The Glasco Turnpike is a major roadway in the area, and detours around the bridge can take drivers miles out of their way.

"We hoped to limp along through winter, but unfortunately the bridge didn't cooperate," he said. "We're going to try to get it fast-tracked as soon as possible." 

Unlike many bridges in the area, the Sauer Bridge did not take much damage during the Irene and Lee floods, Sudlow said. 

"It was so high up it did not get compromised," he said. "It did not take the same abuse that many of the other bridges did."