The New York State Thruway Authority recently announced that the northbound lanes of the Thruway -- Interstate 87 -- from exit 17 in Newburgh to exit 18 in New Paltz will shut down to all traffic at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 6, for at least 12 hours so a portion of the damaged Brookside Road overpass in New Paltz can be safely removed over the northbound lanes. The Plattekill Service Area will be closed during this operation.
The Thruway Authority said motorists should seek alternate routes while this work takes place or avoid travel in the area during these times, if possible.
The authority also said the Plattekill Service area will close at 5 p.m. Jan.6 and commercial vehicles may be asked to leave the facility even earlier.
Closed to traffic since May, the Brookside Road overpass has been hit by over-height vehicles nine times in 2023 and 27 times since 2019. These repeated collisions have resulted in considerable damage to the steel that supports the overpass and decreased the amount of weight it can safely carry, according to the authority. Following regular monitoring and multiple inspections, the Thruway Authority and consulting engineers have determined the overpass should be removed in the interest of public safety.
Built in 1954, the bridge carries Brookside Road (milepost 74.17) over the Thruway – one lane of traffic in each direction – in the town of New Paltz in Ulster County. It had a vertical clearance is 14.2 feet, which has been reduced to 14 feet due to the multiple bridge strikes in both directions, including one on Oct. 30 when its girders above the northbound lanes was struck by a truck hauling a forklift.
To limit impacts to Thruway motorists, this work is scheduled to take place on Saturday night into Sunday morning when traffic volumes are at their lowest. As a result, all northbound lanes north of exit 17 (Newburgh - Scranton - I-84 - NY Routes 17K and 300) will close at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 6, and are expected to remain closed for at least 12 hours. The northbound Thruway is expected to reopen the next morning, with traffic reduced from two travel lanes to one travel lane through the construction zone.
All northbound traffic will be detoured at exit 17 in Newburgh. The detour between the exits for traffic traveling northbound is 24 miles on local roads (see map). Motorists can follow the posted detour to I-84 east, where they will travel three miles to exit 39 and turn left onto Route 9W north. After approximately 16 miles, vehicles will turn left on westbound Route 299. They will travel five miles to reenter the Thruway at interchange 18 (New Paltz - Poughkeepsie - NY Route 299).
Motorists should expect reduced speeds on Routes 9W and 299 and may encounter heavy delays. Detour signs will be posted every two to three miles along the detour. Motorists are encouraged to seek alternate routes to avoid this area altogether.
Variable Message Signs on the Thruway and surrounding highways will advise motorists of the upcoming work, starting Tuesday, Jan 2.
Here’s what motorists and residents should expect on the evening of Saturday, Jan. 6:
- At 5 p.m. Saturday, the Plattekill Service Area along the northbound Thruway in Ulster County – located between exits 17 and 18 – will close, and all customers will be required to leave the facility to ensure the roadway is clear of motorists. No food, restrooms or fuel services will be available. Commercial vehicles may be required to leave the service area even earlier to avoid delays in departure.
- At 7 p.m. Saturday, all traffic on the northbound Thruway will be required to leave the highway at exit 17 in Newburgh.
- Saturday night into Sunday morning – Crews will work to remove the overpass over the highway.
- On Sunday morning, the detour at northbound exit 17 will be lifted and two travel lanes will be available except in the construction zone where there will only be one travel lane available. The Plattekill service area will reopen at this time.
- On Sunday, work will continue to remove the overpass, away from the travel lane.
- The second travel lane through the construction zone will open as soon as safely possible.
- Inclement weather could cause this work to be rescheduled.
During this work, both travel lanes in the southbound direction between exits 18 and 17 will remain open. However, the two southbound lanes are scheduled to close the following weekend (January 13-14) to remove the remainder of the overpass, weather permitting. Further details will be provided in the coming weeks.
From 2021 through 2022, there were a combined 808 reported bridge strikes across New York State, according to a statement from the Thruway Authority.
In 2023, there were 101 reported bridge strikes on the New York State Thruway’s 570-mile highway, compared to a total of 63 reported bridge strikes in all of 2022, a 60 percent increase from the prior year.
One of the most serious incidents included the South Broadway overpass in South Nyack, which was struck by an over-height tractor-trailer on Aug. 31. Due to the hit, all southbound lanes of I-87/I-287 were closed for 16 hours on Sept. 9 to facilitate the removal of two damaged girders to stabilize the overpass.