Spanning 7.5 miles between Cold Spring and Beacon, NY, the Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail is a new multi-modal linear park created by Scenic Hudson along the Hudson River. The trail, with landscape architecture by Scape and buildings and structures by Gray Organschi, will provide visitors with expansive views across the river, as well as access to the region's complex system of waterways, wetlands, highlands and forests.
The Breakneck Bridge, designed by Gray Organschi in collaboration with structural engineering firm Fast + Epp, serves as a critical point of connection along the Fjord Trail, crossing over the Metro North Railroad tracks and sloping gently toward the riverbank, where it joins the southerly reach of the river's edge trail. Conceived primarily as a pedestrian path, the bridge also provides previously unavailable emergency vehicular access to the riverside stretch of the trail.
In keeping with the broader project goals of cultivating the ecological sublime and foregrounding the region’s landscape, the Breakneck Bridge strives to be visually quiet and elegant, modulating its form along its length to meet various clearance and performance requirements. Its primary structure consists of a slender arched weathering steel box girder, which recalls both the region’s industrial past and the railroad directly below. The bridge deck, a series of glulam timber panels cantilevered beyond the weathering steel arches, is bracketed by a visually minimal stainless steel mesh enclosure, keeping walkers and bikers safe from the railroad, but making way for spectacular views toward Storm King, across the Hudson river. With an emphasis on sustainability and durability, these elements coalesce as part of a prefabricated kit of components, allowing for easy maintenance with minimal disruption to the trail’s visitors and operation. This philosophy is emblematic of our design approach within the Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail as a whole, which aims to avoid excessively extractive industrial processes in favor of a regenerative material palette drawn from local sources, and uses tools and techniques that minimize the disturbance of this irreplaceable landscape and invaluable environmental resource.