The Popolopen Creek Bridge carries US Route 9W over Popolopen Creek in Fort Montgomery, New York.
During the American Revolution, a pontoon bridge was constructed across the mouth of Popolopen Creek to connect Forts Montgomery and Clinton. Subsequently, an iron bridge was erected across the lower part of the Popolopen Creek gorge, which was part of the road that led from Hessian Lake to Fort Montgomery. However, the sharp turns onto the bridge, and steep descents into the gorge made it a perilous crossing, which earned it the moniker of the “Hell Hole” among travelers. 2
In 1908, the New York State Legislature designated NY Route 3, an unsigned route that ran along the west side of the Hudson River from Orangetown at the New Jersey state line to Albany. The route underwent gradual improvements to accommodate motor vehicles, and in 1915-16, a high-level steel bridge was constructed to bypass the treacherous “Hell Hole” route through the Popolopen Creek gorge. 2
The new bridge, known as the Popolopen Creek Bridge, was dedicated on July 15, 1916. 2 George W. Perkins, President of the Palisades Park Commission, John Biddle, Superintendent of the United States Military Academy, and Captain Carter, Adjutant of West Point, rode across the bridge from the south approach while the Academy band played “The Spirit of Old West Point.” The following procession included 100 automobiles flying American flags, several horse-drawn carriages, and a host of pedestrians. Notably, the new bridge was higher than the Brooklyn Bridge.
In the original 1926 plan for the U.S. Highway System, US Route 9 was designated along the west bank of the Hudson River from Fort Lee to Albany. However, the 1927 plan introduced two branches of US Route 9, with the west branch along the Hudson River becoming US Route 9W.
During the early 1930s, New York began to plan for the construction of a new four-lane highway between Bear Mountain Bridge and Cornwall-on-Hudson. This was to bypass the narrow Storm King Highway. 7 Construction started in 1935 and was completed in 1941. The key aspect of the project was the widening of the Popolopen Creek Bridge through the addition of a connected Pratt deck truss. 1 3 The Bronx Water Works Corporation executed the construction of the bridge and a mile of highway under a contract worth $478,955. 3
The Popolopen Creek Bridge underwent rehabilitation in 1992.
After the collapse of a deck truss bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on August 1, 2007, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer ordered the inspection of all 49 deck truss bridges in the state. 4 The Popolopen Creek Bridge was the only one to be flagged with a “red flag.” This was after a crack was discovered in the tie-down at the end of one of the bridge trusses. It was noted that the bridge could continue serving traffic until it was repaired in October. 5
Between March 2013 and August 2014, KiSKA Construction abated all structural steel of lead paint and painted it at the cost of $5.5 million. 6 It was part of a larger project that wrapped up in November 2016 which included structural steel and bearings replacement, a new roadway deck, and the installation of new railings. 8
- State: New York
- Route: US Route 9W
- Type: Pratt Deck Truss
- Status: Active - Automobile
- Total Length: 608 feet
- Main Span Length: 430 feet
- Deck Width: 30 feet (1916); 54 feet (1937)
- Roadway Width: 20 feet (1916); 43 feet (1937)
- Total Height: 163 feet
- Navigational Clearance:
- “Highways Widened, Curves Eliminated by New Bridges in Eastern Orange County.” Middletown Times Herald, 28 Jun. 1937, p. 42.
- “Open Costly Bridge; ‘Hell Hole’ No More.” Middletown Times-Press, 18 Jul. 1916, p. 2.
- “New Bridge Joining This Span.” Middletown Times Herald, 23 Jun. 1936, p. 5.
- Halbfinger, Caren. “Bridges found safe for travel.” Journal News, 11 Sept. 2007, pp. 1A-7A.
- Saeed, Khurram. “State declares all truss bridges safe.” Journal News, 27 Dec. 2007, pp. 1A-7A.
- “Route 9W.” Kiska.
- Mathieu, George M. “Storm King Cut-Off Pushed.” New York Times, 6 Aug. 1939, pp. XX1, XX10.
- “Route 9W over Popolopen Creek.” HIWAY, Fall/Winter 2017, p. 11.