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Tompkins County Bridge Receives National Award


The State Route 34B Bridge over Salmon Creek in Tompkins County has been nationally recognized with the American Institute of Steel Construction and the National Steel Bridge Alliance’s 2024 Prize Bridge Merit Award. Held every two years, these awards, which honor significant and innovative steel bridges across the nation, represent the highest recognition bestowed by the U.S. structural steel industry. The structure was selected as a winner under the Medium Span category among a competitive field of entries for engineering innovation, unique aesthetics, and advanced steel construction techniques.

State Route 34B runs along the eastern shores of Cayuga Lake and is an integral part of the popular Cayuga Lake Wine trail. The roadway links the City of Ithaca to the City of Auburn, running between Cayuga Lake and Owasco Lake in New York’s Finger Lakes Region. The bridge carries almost 7,500 vehicles a day and is located along important bus routes for Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit and the Lansing Central School District, which has schools located just south of the bridge.

In July 2022, Governor Hochul announced the completion of this $18.4 million bridge replacement project, which was designed and supported by NYSDOT in-house staff and replaced the original 1930 structure with a modern, steel slant-leg rigid-frame.

The new bridge spans 500 feet, sits 120 feet above the Salmon Creek, and expands the width of the bridge from approximately 29 feet to 40 feet. With an estimated service life of 75 years, it is the longest structure in New York State that utilizes the slanted steel leg support style.

The structure also contains many resilient features including jointless abutments, elimination of fatigue-prone details, and a redundant structure type. Beyond its pleasing design and strength, the 500-foot span integrates seamlessly with the natural environment above the Salmon Creek and incorporates eight-foot-wide shoulders providing additional room for disabled vehicles and pedestrians and bicyclists who also share the roadway. All these attributes have made the bridge an instant landmark along this key connector to exciting attractions and destinations.

New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, “The New York State Department of Transportation is tremendously proud to receive this distinguished award for the innovative State Route 34B Over Salmon Creek project. I was there the day the bridge opened and have heard from the community how much they value this investment. This bridge clearly demonstrates the vision and hard work of our dedicated team of bridge designers and engineers at New York State DOT who truly enhance the lives of New Yorkers through the work that they do, fundamentally connecting our communities and keeping people safe.”

State Senator Lea Webb said, “This national recognition of State Route 34B Bridge with the 2024 Prize Bridge Merit Award is a testament to our State’s commitment to infrastructure excellence. This award highlights the importance of the bridge as a crucial conduit for nearly 7,500 daily vehicles and as a vital transit route along the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail. I thank Governor Hochul for her significant funding allocations that made the recent renovation of this bridge possible and all of our community stakeholders who are integral on this important infrastructure asset in Tompkins County. I remain dedicated to modernizing transportation infrastructure to ensure that our Southern Tier community and local economies continue to thrive.”

Assemblymember Anna Kelles said, “NYS takes bridge safety seriously and this announcement is a testament to our state’s efforts. I was proud to support investments in our upstate infrastructure and thank Governor Hochul and NYSDOT for their commitment to our iconic bridge here in Lansing. The recognition of the State Route 34B Bridge with the prestigious 2024 Prize Bridge Merit Award highlights our state’s commitment to innovation, beauty, and excellence in infrastructure. This bridge frames the gorgeous landscape of Salmon Creek that winds majestically through forestlands and creates cavern like rock walls spanned by the bridge before it enters into Cayuga Lake. It adds to the quiet grace of the natural environment and preserves the architectural design of the original bridge that it replaced. This accolade underscores the collaborative efforts and ensures a bright future that will lift up Tompkins County as a leader in advancing cutting-edge solutions for our community’s needs.”

Tompkins County Legislative Chair Dan Klein said, “The State Route 34B Bridge over Salmon Creek is a beautiful and vital piece of infrastructure in our rural county. Residents and visitors who drive over it every day are grateful for the NY State funding that enabled it to be constructed.”

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