Jan 19 2011

From the Ridolph Collection: The Motor Parkway Bridge in the Melville Sand Pits

As posted last November, I believe only eight of the 60 bridges built from 1908 to 1926 for the Long Island Motor Parkway are still intact (five in Queens, two in Nassau County and one in Suffolk County). My hesitation is that the lone surviving intact Suffolk County Motor Parkway bridge is located in very private property in Melville and has not been seen by the public in over 15 years. But, let's start at the beginning before crossing that bridge...Current evidence indicates that this bridge is still largely intact.


When William K. Vanderbilt Jr. and his business associates were purchasing land for the Motor Parkway in 1907, the first property encountered in Suffolk County was the farm owned by Henry M. Clody. As part of the agreement to purchase the land, the Motor Parkway was required to build a farmway bridge connecting the north and south sections of the Clody farm. This Motor Parkway survey noted the "Farmway Br. at Station 608".


Update: This 1950 aerial of Old Bethpage and Melville showed the abandoned Motor Parkway as it approached Broad Hollow Road (Route 110).


Update: A close-up shows the location of the Clody Farmway Bridge.

Melville Sandpits


Long after the Motor Parkway closed in 1938, the 14-acre Clody Farm was purchased and made into one of the largest sandpits on the Long Island in the 1950s. Although the huge sandpit was soon closed to the public, Ron Ridolph was able to document the Clody Farmway Bridge as part of his Motor Parkway photo essay in the 1980s:

Views Looking East


The Motor Parkway right-of-way was still being used as a road for deliveries. The office buildings on Route 110 can be seen in the background.


The warning on the bridge has almost totally faded away. Note the small building on the left which can also be seen in the current Google Earth aerial below.


The north abutment.

Views Looking West


Decades after being constructed, the embankments of the bridge are still strong enough to support a hopper capable of holding 30 tons of sand.


As seen in this 1972 image, the faded warning on the bridge once read "Slow Down For Curve". (Courtesy of Margaret and George Vitale)


The opposite side of the north abutment with the warning "Don't Pass Cars On...(The Left)".


The south abutment with the warning "Please Be Careful".

Links to related posts on VanderbiltCupRaces.com:

The Intact Long Island Motor Parkway Bridges

The Ron Ridolph Collection

Archives: Long Island Motor Parkway- Bridges

Archives: Long Island Motor Parkway-Suffolk County

Current evidence indicates this bridge is largely intact.


Jan 23 2011 Jeff Becker 11:15 AM

Very interesting.  Would it not be possible for you to get access for educational purposes just to see it today?

Jan 25 2011 Howard Kroplick 10:27 AM

Hi Jeff:

Al Velocci and I have tried in the past without success.


Dec 14 2011 Gerry Crosson 10:32 AM

Perhaps a committee could be formed to look into ways of approaching the owners and working with them to preserve this historic
bridge.  Money is tight nowadays but perhaps Suffolk County could buy a strip of land parallel to the old LIMP Right of Way along the edge of the sand pits near the public road.  The historic bridge could be moved onto that strip and it could be part of a bicounty LIMP hiking and biking trail.  Groups like the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities (my former employer) and the Vanderbilt Museum (my current one) may offer help to this project.

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