BMW 535d Review: The Road to Bear Mountain

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A short drive, approximately 2.2 miles (3.5 kilometers), after exiting the parkway at the traffic circle, brought me to a carved wooden sign for Perkins Memorial Drive.  The drive, which is a paved path wide enough for two cars to pass, takes the visitor 2.1 miles (3.4 kilometers) to the summit, where an observatory sits.

Fuel economy until reaching the base of the mountain was impressive, at 36.75 mpg (6.4 l/100 km).  This covered approximately 39 miles (63 kilometers) at an average speed of 48 mph (76 km/h).  The brief drive up the mountain, however, caused the car’s fuel economy to drop significantly.

THE BEAR MOUNTAIN BRIDGE

After reaching the summit and basking in the view, it was now time to travel down the mountain and continue to the next waypoint, the Bear Mountain Bridge and its original tollhouse.  The bridge connects Rockland and Westchester counties in New York State and carries U.S. Highways 202 and 6 across the river.  It also routes the Appalachian Trail across the Hudson.  It’s surely welcomed by trail hikers who would otherwise have to swim across.

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The Bear Mountain Bridge, which opened to traffic in 1924 (although planning for a bridge at that site started in 1868), is one of my favorite bridges for several reasons.  When it opened (it was privately owned and first became property of New York State in 1940), it was the longest suspension bridge in the world for 19 months, at which point it was surpassed by the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, which links Philadelphia with New Jersey.

The toll in 1924 was 80 cents per vehicle and ten cents per occupant.  It was lowered in 1940 to 50 cents ($8.20 in 2014 dollars) yet today it is only $1.50 ($1.25 for those using E-ZPass) and, along with all Hudson River crossings south of it, collected only from eastbound traffic.

The bridge has one lane in each direction, separated by a double yellow line, as well as pedestrian walkways on both sides.  Cyclists are allowed to use the roadway.  At the time of its opening it was the only bridge south of Albany to span the Hudson.

Click here to continue to Page 3Bear Mountain Bridge Road and Tollhouse 

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