NYPA cuts ribbon on Long Path footbridge

NYPA cuts ribbon on Long Path footbridge
By Jim Poole

A new footbridge deep in the woods at Mine Kill State Park removes one of the last danger spots of the popular Long Path. Officials from the New York Power Authority, State Parks and Schoharie County gathered at the park on the Blenheim-Gilboa town line Friday afternoon to celebrate the new bridge’s opening. NYPA completed the bridge last year, and Friday’s event made it official. The footbridge, about 40 feet long, crosses Pigeon Creek on the 358-mile Long Path, which starts in Manhattan and ends at Thacher Park in Albany County. “We’re deeply appreciative of the Power Authority,” said Mark Traver, president of the Long Path North Hiking Club. “This was the last major dangerous crossing north of the Catskills.” Before, Mr. Traver said, there was no bridge; hikers had to cross Pigeon Creek on its rocky bed. “And it’s icy and slippery in the spring,” Mr. Traver said. Although the club has wanted a footbridge for years, the idea didn’t take shape until the Wildlife Task Force, which works with NYPA, got involved. according to Mike Zeh of the Schoharie County Conservation Association. The task force, including association members, reps from SUNY Cobleskill, sportsmen and NYPA itself, recommended building the bridge. “It was one of our ideas,” Mr. Zeh said. “It wouldn’t have happened without the wildlife task force.” Gil Quiniones, Power Authority president and CEO, said the project was one NYPA welcomes. “We did this because we’re part of your community. That’s how we feel,” Mr. Quiniones said, standing beneath the bridge and speaking to the audience of about 25. “We’re so happy to build this in such a pristine setting.” Mr. Quiniones pointed to the bridge itself, noting it’s made of black locust, which can better withstand weather and insects. The bridge also supported by two large steel I-beams that span the creek. Mr. Quiniones praised NYPA engineers Kamran Khan and Andy Guan, who designed the bridge. So how did they get the steel beams to the site––at least a half mile of logging road and footpath? “They were driven in as far as we could go,” said Mr. Khan, “and then we used a pulley system.” “And lots of manpower,” Mr. Guan added. Chris Kenyon, manager at Mine Kill State Park, said the partnership between State Parks and the Power Authority was important not only for building the footbridge. It’s a partnership that’s lasted decades. The Power Authority developed the park in the 1970s, and the park lies in Power Authority property, near the Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped Storage Power Project. “We’re very appreciative of our partnership with NYPA,” Mr. Kenyon said. Blenheim Supervisor Don Airey and Gilboa Supervisor Tony VanGlad echoed those words. “This is another signal that the Power Authority is investing in our area and our county,” Mr. Airey said. “We’re very thankful.”

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