A Guide to the Bridges of the Hudson Valley

Take a closer look at the structures that bridge the gap from one side of the Hudson Valley to the other, from Westchester to Albany.

Home to many historic bridges, the Hudson Valley constantly evolves and maintains its river links – from changing the names to adding lanes. Throughout the Valley, there are six major structures that are used for commuting, commerce, and connection up and down the river. While some bridges are closer to 100 years old, others are just recently completed projects that have taken the place of historic crossings past.

Along with the Valley’s major driving links, the Hudson River is also crossed by a smaller yet mighty walking bridge. Even though this walkway may not be burdened by standstill traffic during rush hour, it still sees a lot of action and tourism from the region and holds a great deal of its own history and stories.

Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge

Connection: Tarrytown to South Nyack
Official name: Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge
Also known as: Tappan Zee Bridge
Type: Twin cable-stayed
Length: 16,368 feet

- Advertisement -

Taking the place of the old Tappan Zee Bridge is the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, a twin cable-stayed crossing that connects Rockland and Westchester counties. Although the original Tappan Zee Bridge debuted in 1955, its replacement was more recently completed and opened to the public in 2018. Heavy traffic and the need for constant repairs on the old bridge were large factors that contributed to the decision to build a new one, in addition to structural issues that prevented widening or the addition of lanes to compensate for increasing commuter numbers.

As a result, the new and improved Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge is a striking example of innovative infrastructure renewal that is designed to last for more than 100 years without needing any major structural maintenance. The bridge also has bus lanes and a shared path for bicyclists and pedestrians, with the capacity to accommodate a commuter rail between its two spans in the future. As for the old bridge, much of its parts were reused and recycled for infrastructure projects and marine habitats off the coast of Long Island.

Bear Mountain Bridge

Connection: Cortlandt to Stony Point
Official name: Bear Mountain Bridge
Also known as: Purple Heart Veterans Memorial Bridge
Type: Suspension
Length: 2,254 feet

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by NYC 🔁 Beacon (@beacon_transplant)

- Partner Content -

Ceremonially named the Purple Heart Veterans Memorial Bridge, the Bear Mountain Bridge is the oldest of the Hudson River’s six main structures, coming up on its 100th anniversary next year as it was opened in 1924. When it was built, the Bear Mountain had the longest suspended span in the world, and it was the first vehicular river crossing over the Hudson between Albany and New York City. In fact, the Bear Mountain Bridge project marked the beginning of a period of long-span bridge building across the Hudson River and throughout the metropolitan area.

Successfully built with zero casualties, the bridge relied on inventive methods that broke new ground and paved the way for the construction of other suspension bridges like the George Washington and the Golden Gate. The Bear Mountain Bridge became a necessity for travel in the Valley after the popularity of the nearby Bear Mountain State Park grew and the ferryboats could no longer accommodate the large influx of tourists and their vehicles. Its ceremonial name was given to the bridge in 2018 to pay tribute to the soldiers who were killed or wounded in defense of the United States and to recognize the Hudson Valley’s creation of the Purple Heart and the region’s continued connection to the military.

Newburgh-Beacon Bridge

Connection: Beacon to Newburgh
Official name: Newburgh-Beacon Bridge
Also known as: Hamilton Fish Newburgh-Beacon Bridge
Type: Truss
Length: 7,854 feet

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by NYC 🔁 Beacon (@beacon_transplant)

The most traveled of the Valley’s major bridges, the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge’s north span was opened in 1963, while the south span was opened in 1980. Tradition has it that Native Americans regularly crossed the Hudson River at the same point between Dutchess and Orange counties, long before Europeans had even arrived on the continent. The bridge’s two spans now carry New York State Route 52 and Interstate 84 between the two counties. Originally only carrying NY 52 traffic, the bridge was pushed over capacity with the construction of Interstate 84, resulting in the need for a second parallel span south of the original. In 1997, the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge was ceremonially named the Hamilton Fish Newburgh-Beacon Bridge in honor of the New York governor, United States senator, and United State Secretary of State Hamilton Fish.

- Advertisement -

In 2020, construction began on a deck replacement project on the bridge – the largest project in the history of the New York State Bridge Authority at $95 million. The construction was originally slated to finish in mid-2023, but was completed nine months ahead of schedule, capping off a decade-long period of significant improvements to the Hudson Valley’s most-traveled crossing.

Mid-Hudson Bridge

Connection: Poughkeepsie to Highland
Official name: Mid-Hudson Bridge
Also known as: Franklin D. Roosevelt Mid-Hudson Bridge
Type: Suspension
Length: 3,000 feet

Opened in 1930, the idea for the Mid-Hudson Bridge came in 1923 when the only other bridge over the Hudson south of Albany was the Bear Mountain Bridge. When it first opened, the bridge won recognition as the most beautiful suspension bridge in this part of the country thanks to its gothic design and was honored in 1983 by the American Society of Civil Engineers as a New York State Civil Engineering Landmark. For its opening day celebration, the Mid-Hudson was graced by the presence of Governor and Mrs. Roosevelt, which consequently influenced the 1994 decision to ceremonially name the bridge the Franklin D. Roosevelt Mid-Hudson Bridge after the former governor and president, who also played a large role in the creation of the New York State Bridge Authority.

In 2009, local composer Joseph Bertolozzi created his public sound-art installation, “Bridge Music,” which utilized sounds recorded on the Mid-Hudson Bridge to create a suite of music. When walking on the bridge’s pedestrian path, you can experience this project at an interactive checkpoint along the middle of the bridge via buttons you can press to hear different sounds and within the vicinity of the bridge on 95.3 FM.

Walkway Over the Hudson

Connection: Poughkeepsie to Highland
Official name: Walkway Over the Hudson
Also known as: The Walkway, Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge
Type: Cantilever
Length: 6,768 feet

Within eyesight of the Mid-Hudson Bridge is one of the world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridges, the Walkway Over the Hudson. Known by many previous names, including the Poughkeepsie Bridge, Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge, Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge, and High Bridge, the Walkway was originally built as a double-track railway bridge in 1889, forming part of the Maybrook Railroad Line of the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad. The bridge was taken out of service in 1974 after being damaged by fire and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

It wasn’t until 2009 that the bridge reopened as a pedestrian walking bridge as part of the new Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park. The bridge serves as the other location where the Empire State Trail currently crosses the Hudson, connecting the Hudson Valley Rail Trail in Highland to the William R. Steinhaus Dutchess Rail Trail. Not only does the Walkway have a 21-story glass elevator to provide seasonal access from Poughkeepsie’s waterfront in Upper Landing Park, but it is also quite the tourist attraction with over 600,000 visitors annually.

Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge

Connection: Rhinecliff to Kingston
Official name: Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge
Also known as: George Clinton Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge
Type: Truss
Length: 7,792 feet

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Tim Hurley (@strgyn)

Up the river from the Walkway Over the Hudson is the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge, which connects Ulster and Dutchess counties. Although many suggestions were initially brought forward for the bridge’s name, including naming it after then President Martin Van Buren or Vice President George Clinton, the New York State Bridge Authority eventually decided to name it after its geographic location. The bridge was opened in February 1957 prior to completion as a convenience to industrial workers who had to walk the span after the river froze and ferries could no longer operate.

It wasn’t until 2000 that the crossing was ceremonially named the George Clinton Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge, in honor of the Hudson Valley native who acted as the longest serving Governor of New York State, in addition to Vice President of the United States for both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. The bridge also forms an important link between parks and historic sites on both sides of the river and is one of two places where the Empire State Trail crosses over the Hudson River.

Rip Van Winkle Bridge

Connection: Hudson to Catskill
Official name: Rip Van Winkle Bridge
Also known as: Hudson-Catskill Bridge
Type: Cantilever
Length: 5,041 feet

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by gribblenation (@gribblenation)

The Rip Van Winkle is another one of the Hudson Valley’s older bridges, opening to the public in 1935 to connect Greene and Columbia counties. Named after the 1819 short story of the same name by Washington Irving, the bridge is one of the only Hudson River bridges not named after a politician. At the time of its opening, the toll schedule on the bridge was complicated, charging passengers $.80 plus $.10 per passenger up to a maximum of $1, with varying other tolls for truckers, motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists, all of which were charged in both directions. To maintain the bridge and keep it safe for visitors, a multi-year repainting project was completed to remove all lead-based paint.

In 2018, a pedestrian walkway was completed on the bridge’s south side, open from dusk until dawn to bicyclists and joggers. The pathway serves as a link on the Hudson River Skywalk, which connects the homes and historic sites of Hudson River School painters Thomas Cole and Frederic Church.

Related: The Bear Mountain Bridge Approaches Its Centennial in the Hudson Valley

Our Digital Partners

Learn how to become a digital partner ...

Our Excellence in Nursing Awards take place on May 1!

Our Best of Hudson Valley ballot is open through March 31!

Unveiled: A Boutique Bridal Brunch is February 25!

Holiday flash sale ... subscribe and save 50%

Limited time offer. New subscribers only.