Bridges of Shandaken: Back in action

Above: A video showing the damage Irene wreaked on the Bridge Street Bridge in Phoenicia. Taken August 29, 2011 by YouTube user mjanensch1.

Phoenicia's Bridge Street Bridge, which was feared to be irreparable after the wrath of Irene, will officially re-open with a special ceremony at 9am on Friday, May 25. The reopening is over a month ahead of schedule: Ulster County officials promised in March that the bridge would be open by the Fourth of July.

Ulster County executive Mike Hein is busy this week with bridge ribbon-cutting ceremonies. On Tuesday, Hein presided over another ceremony at a new permanent bridge across the Cascade Brook on Route 47 in Big Indian, which has been open since March 21.

During the Irene floods, raging torrents ripped out several bridges on Route 47 and carved a 50-foot canyon through the middle of the road where the new bridge now stands, stranding about 200 people with no access to the outside world.

The new Route 47 bridge has been renamed in honor Steven Fischer, an Ulster County Department of Public Works employee who died on September 1, 2010.

Below: Hein at the dedication of the Route 47 bridge with Alison Fischer, Steven Fischer's wife. Photo courtesy of the Ulster County Executive's Office.