Depot Road Bridge at Branchville station remains closed in Ridgefield

Depot Road Bridge, with its stone archway over the Norwalk River, will remain closed until major repairs can be undertaken.

Depot Road Bridge, with its stone archway over the Norwalk River, will remain closed until major repairs can be undertaken.

Macklin Reid / Hearst Connecticut Media

RIDGEFIELD — Branchville’s Depot Road Bridge will remain closed until major repairs can be done, officials said.

A new engineering report has recommended that the 109-year-old bridge — the more northerly of two passages between the Branchville Train Station and Route 7 — remain closed to vehicular traffic.

“Unfortunately, we will be doing it,” First Selectman Rudy Marcon said of the continued closure. He gave the selectmen the latest news about the bridge at the Sept. 2 meeting.

In July, Marconi said he expected the bridge could reopen to cars, if not trucks, because a study with ground penetrating radar found the structure’s deck involves a concrete slab that is 30 inches thick, with steel reinforcement bar in it, providing “quite a bit of structural integrity.”

The bridge had been closed since October 2019 due to concerns raised by state engineers about the structure’s other main structural element, the stone arch underneath the concrete slab deck.

Marconi was awaiting approval from structural engineers, but the latest report did not provide assurance that the bridge could be safely re-opened.

Depot Road Bridge, which carries about 600 vehicles a day, is due to be rebuilt as part of a plan to repair bridges at both ends of the train station — Depot Road Bridge at the north end and Portland Avenue Bridge at the south end.

The Portland Avenue Bridge project — which involves an intersection realignment and the addition of a traffic light — is not able to move ahead until Depot Road Bridge is again open to traffic.

It’s not feasible to have both bridges closed at the same time since it would mean trying to access the Branchville station from Route 7 would require driving to Georgetown and reaching the station via Route 107 and Portland Avenue.

A $2 million repair plan for Branchville’s closed Depot Road Bridge — with a town cost projected at about $354,000, and remaining expenses shared with the federal and state governments — was approved by the Board of Selectmen and the finance board in late 2019 and a town meeting in January.

The town and state plans to rebuild Portland Avenue Bridge and add a traffic light have an estimated $2.2 million cost, with a town share of $442,000.

The repair of both bridges is part of a comprehensive package of improvements to facilities in Branchville, designed to spur economic growth there.