Depot Road Bridge repair projected to cost Ridgefield $354,000

Depot Road Bridge will cost an estimated $2.3 million to repair, with the town's share $354,000. Water was high during the rains Dec. 14, 2019. An orange barrier closing the bridge is at far right.

Depot Road Bridge will cost an estimated $2.3 million to repair, with the town's share $354,000. Water was high during the rains Dec. 14, 2019. An orange barrier closing the bridge is at far right.

Macklin Reid / Hearst Connecticut Media

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 by the federal and state governments — has been approved by the Board of Selectmen and sent on to the finance board with the goal of being presented to a Jan. 8 town meeting.

The town is also planning studies to find out if there might be steel rebar reinforcement within the bridge’s concrete structure that would allow it to be safely reopened before it is rebuilt, allowing cars — though, not trucks — to get in and out of Branchville train station.

“We’re going to be using ground-penetrating radar,” First Selectman Rudy Marconi told the Dec. 11 selectmen’s meeting.

The 109-year-old Depot Road Bridge is at the north end of Branchville train station, and was closed in October on the recommendation of the state, which had found structural problems suggesting the bridge could no longer be considered safe.

The town and state also have plans to rebuild the Portland Avenue Bridge, at the south end of Branchville station — an estimated $2.2 million project, with a town cost of $442,000 that was approved by voters more than a year ago.

Marconi told the Dec. 11 selectmen’s meeting that the Portland Avenue Bridge project — which involves a intersection realignment and the addition of a traffic light — couldn’t move ahead until the Depot Road Bridge was again open to traffic.

Having both bridges closed at the same time is viewed as unacceptable, since it would mean people trying to get into Branchville Train Station from Route 7 would have to drive all the way to Georgetown, and then come back to Branchville via Route 107 and Portland Avenue.

“We have to do something,” Marconi said.

So the state’s plan is to do the Deport Road Bridge repairs first.

“They said it would be combined with Portland Avenue and the bid would reflect both bridges,” Marconi told the selectmen.

The town’s $354,000 share is 20 percent — but only of the construction cost, estimated at about $1.7 or 1.8 million, Marconi said.

The cost of the entire project is projected to about $2,275,000.

Portland Bridge

Back on Oct. 16 a public meeting was conducted in town by state Department of Transportation officials to outline plans for the Portland Avenue Bridge replacement project, which has been in the planning stages a few years.

The new Portland Avenue Bridge is expected to compliment the Branchville Transit Oriented Development or “TOD” project, which involves improving the area with new sidewalks, plantings and street lamps designed to enhance the neighborhood and encourage economic revitalization there.

A town meeting more than a year ago approved the town’s $442,000 share of the Portland Avenue Bridge replacement, which is projected to cost $2,210,000.

The plan is to add a traffic light on Route 7 at the Portland Avenue Bridge intersection. There would be three lanes of traffic — two 12-foot lanes for northbound and southbound through traffic on Route 7, and a 10-foot wide left-turning lane for southbound traffic on Route 7 waiting at the new light to turn left into Portland Avenue.

Depot Road Bridge

Former Town Engineer Charles Fisher, who in his retirement does work for the town as a consultant, detailed the problems with the Depot Road Bridge in a Sept. 10 letter based on a review by structural engineering consultant CME Associates and also a report from the state Department of Transportation (DOT).

“CME noted that the stacked stone arch was in serious condition with two large voids underneath the bridge created by missing stones,” Fisher wrote. “Since the last inspection, CME noted that the fill material between the stone arch and the overlying concrete slab continued to erode.

“Due to the condition of the structure and the unavailability of plans for the 109-year-old structure, CME was unable to assess a load rating for the bridge. Based on the inspector’s findings and the condition of the stone arch, CME recommended that the bridge be closed to vehicular traffic until it would be replaced.

“The state DOT noted similar concerns with respect to the bridge’s condition, The DOT noted deficiencies of the bridge’s concrete deck including hollowness throughout, hairline cracks, large scale spalls, efflorescence and water leakage, and ‘punk’ concrete.

“Within its report the state noted that the average daily traffic count (ADT) was 600 vehicles per day with a detour length of one mile. Of that amount, it was estimated that three percent of the bridge’s ADT was attributed to truck traffic,” Fisher wrote.