For anyone whose travels have taken them to Long Island’s East End and, in particular, the old whaling town of Sag Harbor, New York, the Ponquogue Bridge is a recognizable structure. This 2,812 foot long bridge traverses over the Shinnecock Bay. Its piers are a favorite place for fisherman, and the waters under the south side of the bridge harbor a vibrant marine ecosystem making them a popular divers’ location. Looking at the Ponquoque Bridge today, you might not have imagined its history and the destruction it has withstood since it was first built in 1930. With this background, there becomes an even greater apprecia- tion for the value of the sustainable marine lumber used in its latest restoration project. A 1,000 Foot Long Wooden Drawbridge The Ponquogue Bridge began as a 1,000 foot long wooden drawbridge. Over the years, a lack of proper maintenance contributed to significant rotting of its wood. This ultimately resulted in the reduction of its weight limit in 1976 from 15 tons to eight tons. Years before that, there had been considerable discussion between the United States Coast Guard and the local municipalities (i.e., the Town of Southampton and Suffolk County where Sag Harbor is located) on how to improve the bridge. By 1977, Suffolk County put forth an application for a new bridge to be built 300 feet from the original structure at a cost of $6 million. The building permit was denied because the project would have negatively impacted 3.5 acres of wetlands. Subsequently, in 1980, a new plan was submitted which would come in at a higher cost of $14 million, but would affect a reduced area of 1.5 acres of wetlands. This too and other designs were deemed unacceptable. It wasn’t until 1982 that the Coast Guard finally approved a plan for a new bridge to be constructed 150 feet from the old Ponquoque Bridge structure. During the course of its construction, in 1985, a145-foot, 90-ton girder valued at $29,000, being transported on a crane for part of the bridge’s construction, fell 30 feet onto a barge, splitting in half. Ultimately, the bridge was constructed, but that incident paled in comparison to damage the bridge would sustain at the hands of two natural disasters. In 1986, the County replaced the timber bridge with a reinforced con- crete bridge that provided more vertical clearance for boat traffic. The timber from portions of the bridge piers were repurposed for fishing piers, a diving pier and a boat launch. Then, in 2011, Hurricane Irene Sustainable Marine Lumber Helps Bridge Environmental and Structural Goals for the Ponquogue Bridge Restoration By Richard Zimmerman, Jr.
hit Long Island, causing substantial damage. It was followed by Super Storm Sandy in 2012. With winds of over 100 mph and tides 14 feet above normal heights, Sandy struck a devastating blow to the bridge. This prompted new discussion about its fate. Initial consideration was given to tearing down the bridge, but public outcry and further consid- eration prevailed based on the significance of the bridge both from a historical and community value standpoint, but also for its importance to the marine ecosystem underneath and around it. Multiple meetings with many concerned environmentalists, divers and community activ- ists led to the decision to restore the bridge. A new restoration plan developed by the Town in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the local community ensued. Af- ter FEMA funding was secured, the $1.9 million construction project began in October 2017 and was completed in 2018. A key component of the new bridge design and construction was the use of sustainable marine lumber. Sustainable Marine Lumber For marine environments, sustainable marine lumber offers a strong value proposition. It supports the guidelines provided by the U.S. En- vironmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the U.S. Department of Com- merce as put forth in their Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program. Its features are also aligned with the technical guidance offered by the Permanent International Commission for the Navigation Congresses (PIANC) relating to sustainable design, construction and management of ports, marinas and related structures. Specifically, PIANC guidance focuses on preventing hazardous chemicals from entering the water, materials degrading and entering the water, and structures interfering with live habitats and ecosystems under and around a marine structure. Sustainable marine lumber meets these and other important perfor- mance criteria. Sustainable marine lumber is responsibly harvested from forests that are carefully managed from an environmental perspective. Many sup- pliers of sustainable marine lumber provide products that are Forest
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