Blenheim Bridge officially sets down across Schoharie Creek

Blenheim Bridge, Catskill Mountains, upstate new york

First official photo of the bridge lowered and set, wood to concrete. Photos by Rebecca Andre of MGPAD, please ask for permission before use.

By Rebecca Andre,  Tues., 5.1.18 – 7:44 pm – North Blenheim, NY

Here is the first official look at the new “Old Blenheim Bridge” across the Schoharie Creek, steel free and solely supported by her arched trusses meticulously perched on the abutments. This is a momentous day.

Almost there!

“We are ecstatic,” said a group of locals that gathered for free hotdogs at Pastor Mike’s church, UMC of Blenheim, the previous Wednesday. The sign at the church declared “almost there” and “free hotdogs” as workers were treated to lunch.

“Almost there” sign at Blenheim UMC

Removal of the last temporary steel supports from the west end abutment

Now, on this first day of May, the Town of Blenheim has officially evened its score with Tropical Storm Irene. Six and a half years ago, the storm claimed victory, with floodwaters devastating the town and in a symbolic flourish, destroying the bridge, leaving the towns folk without their homes and without their bridge.

After a battle that spanned years and multiple appeals to FEMA, hope and the bridge have been restored over the troubled waters of the Schoharie Creek. (Please read the full Kaatskill Life story on the rebuilding of the bridge here and stay tuned for further coverage in the same quarterly magazine detailing the entire move of the 200 ton bridge.)

Completion timeline

Despite some local papers proclaiming the project as “almost finished” Richard Christman, Chief Engineer with GPI, or as he calls himself, “interpreter of the plans and the problems,” says that the projected completion is set for October of 2018. Due to Mother Nature, along with other unpredictables, even this forecast could change.

Stan Graton of 3G Construction, a third generation bridgewright, has hopes his part will be completed sometime in June, that is the building of the floor and roof and the pre-loading of 147 tons. ( An engineering requirement that means approximately 45 gallons of water per sq. foot, i.e. 168 IBC totes pumped full of creek water, must be placed the length of the bridge to test its strength against the 150 person capacity and projected snow load).

“And then we can lock in the center diagonals,” says Graton.

Stan and Arnold (JR) Graton make use of shims during the last connection;  the final setting of wood to concrete

But such activities, including but not limited to, installation of the standing seam metal roof, fireproofing, re-establishing electricity, staining of the concrete abutments, landscaping and site cleanup mean that the bridge is still half a year away from completion.

In the meantime, take a ride to North Blenheim and experience the lifting energy that the rebuilt bridge has bestowed upon this small Schoharie County town. Park by the Blenheim Honor Roll sign, across from the old school house, just shy of the construction site. For safety reasons, please stay behind the orange fence and snap away.

***

Richard Christman, Chief Engineer, watches the final placement

Stan and JR Graton breathe a sigh of relief that the structure they have so tirelessly worked on, built faithfully to original specs and at times with period appropriate (mid 19th century) handtools, sits proud and sturdy across the water

Bridge offices temporarily staged at the bridge museum, previously a school house. Banner boasts the coalition of companies and agencies responsible for the new bridge.

Economy Paving Company, Stan Graton II 3G Construction Inc., GPI Engineering, Expert House Movers, Lamont Engineers, Simmons Recovery Consulting, Hoyle, Tanner & Assoc., P.C., Town of  Blenheim, Shoharie County, U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, FEMA

Covered Bridge , symbol of Town of Blenheim

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“Old Blenheim Bridge” built in 1855 by Nicholas Powers, drawing by Robert E. Shaffer 12.25.1939

Spring in the Catskills

Catskill Mountains

Ramps, rain, fiddleheads, waterfalls, mud, allergies, ticks, trout…  on goes the list.

In the few short months of Spring/Summer, a lot needs to happen as soon as the weather shift takes place. The snow has melted, leaving a mess on the property.  The firewood stack has dwindled. The lawn mower needs a resurrection; a new batch of chemical-free bug spray needs to be concocted.  The list is endless.

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Fiddleheads and dandilions – a forager’s feast

This spring I have welcomed with wide open arms, as she marks the end of my Mom’s chemo, and perhaps a tiny promise of a return to slight normalcy.

Enter ‘In Bloom, 2017’, my first official gallery exhibition, shared with two amazing artists, Alix Hallman Travis and Mary Overly Davis, at the Common’s Gallery.

Finally my poetry and photography on the same wall for all the world to see. Actually, not sure how I feel about that now that I see it in writing….

'She Knows There Will Be Lilacs'

#20 ‘She Knows There Will Be Lilacs’

This collection is over three years in the making. Since I have moved to the Catskills, there has been abundant inspiration for my poetry and photography to intersect and intertwine. I have taken hordes of landscapes and also close ups blooms that bless these mountains, wether native or cultivated.

Of course, for me the first herald of spring is not a bloom at all, but rather a pointed little green nosing itself from beneath the decaying leaves: ramps, aka, wild leeks.

Catskill ramps

Ramps have risen

Whatever Spring means for you, or to you, be sure to embrace her. In the Catskills, Spring is fleeting yet fulfilling.

Hope Is Chartreuse

‘Hope is Chartreuse’ #5 – A Mother’s Day picnic by the Beaverkill inspired a poem and this photo of maple leaves being born

And with that…I leave you with a poem…or several.

MOTHER’S DAY BY A COVERED BRIDGE ON THE BEAVERKILL – A HAIKU COLLECTION

Pool of peace –
water flows steady beneath
stockade of trusses.

Glowing sun heats
freshly bared skin as hope grows;
a chartreuse promise.

Green and blue sea glass:
tiny gems too fragile for
this fast, fickle stream.

Distant thoughts hover
like black flies or nymphs just caught
in daydreams of silk.

Here we both sit:
Fly rods and trout, lens and pen
peace pulling us in.