West Point cadets building bridge on Bannerman's Island
By MICHAEL RANDALL | The Times Herald-Record, Middletown, N.Y. | Published: April 20, 2017
MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. (Tribune News Service) — West Point cadets hammered nails into boards and took measurements Wednesday as a bridge they designed took shape on Bannerman's Island.
This is the capstone project for the year for these senior cadets, many of them civil engineering majors.
But the bridge also serves a practical purpose: It will link what once was the residential part of the island with the part containing its highest peak, giving future visitors better access to spectacular views of the Hudson River Valley to the north and south.
It replaces a bridge that Bannerman Castle Trust Executive Director Neil Caplan said has been gone since the 1930s.
Col. Brad Wambeke, the project adviser, said there was "overwhelming interest" among cadets in building the bridge.
Cadet Kelsey Pittman, who helped create the winning design among three submitted for consideration, was one of them.
"I had heard of Bannerman's Island, but I had never been here before," Pittman said. "It's real cool to be out here."
Pittman will be going into the engineering branch of the Army after she graduates next month, and will be doing a lot more work like this, on a bigger scale.
Wambeke said the project has been a year-and-a-half in the making, since Caplan asked if it could be done. That includes everything from getting the design approved by the state Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation — which oversees everything that happens on Bannerman's Island — to working out the logistics of getting the construction materials to the island.
Actual construction began last week, and will be finished after two more days of good weather.
Caplan said the project could have cost $35,000 without the help of the cadets and a "silent donor" who paid for the materials.
"It saved us a whole lot of money," Caplan said.
The wood for the bridge deck is ipe, a sturdy wood that should stand up to the toughest Hudson Valley winter snows, Caplan said.