Clarkson University students designing bridge in Ogdensburg


Historic Fort de la Présentation site, Ogdensburg, N.Y. (photo: Clarkson University)

ODGENSBURG, N.Y. (WWTI) — Teams of students from Clarkson University are set to design a bridge for the historic Fort de la Présentation site in Ogdensburg, N.Y.

According to Clarkson University, two separate teams have designed options for the bridge. One preliminary design was a steel bridge, and a second designed in the spring 2021 semester, was a timber bridge. Students considered the latter to be an “economical solution to provide an actual bridge as quickly as possible.”

“Our team was tasked with building a five- to 10-year-life-span timber bridge,” says Mechanical Engineering Team Lead Claire Zwack. “Our design focused on incorporating the railroad heritage of the area because the bridge will be built on the location of former train tracks. Another key feature of our design was that our bridge will be relatively easy to assemble, meaning that volunteer labor could be used to build it, possibly with Clarkson students doing some of the work.”

An additional team of Clarkson University Civil and Environmental Engineering students also joined the project and completed a preliminary design for a steel bridge and concrete abutments for both the wooden and steel bridges.

This project was first started by Clarkson University Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering Instructor Ron Buckingham when he approached the Fort de la Présentation Association Board of Directors regarding a possible project for his Capstone Design class.

“This project is very important for St. Lawrence County and Ogdensburg,” says Buckingham. 

“The association’s overall goal is to reconstruct the original fort and turn this lovely site into an attractive historical place that people will want to visit,” stated Buckingham. “The Founder’s Weekend reenactment that takes place every July attracts hundreds of people from the U.S. and Canada. Having a bridge so that people can access the island is a very important piece of this larger vision.”

“The point has the best views of the St. Lawrence River,” added Fort de la Présentation Association Board of Directors President Barbara O’Keefe. “Access to it has been an objective, but was not achievable currently, since as a non-profit, our funds are limited. With plans in hand, we can now seek grant funding.”

Clarkson University shared that its students plan on building the timber bridge on the University’s campus and transporting it in pieces for installation within the next two years.

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