Depot Road bridge: Closing waits on the state

Deteriorated and structurally deficient, with stones missing and cracks in its concrete deck, Depot Road bridge still hadn’t been closed two weeks after the selectmen were first told the bridge — one of two into the Branchville train station — had serious problems.

Closure of the 109-year-old bridge was still awaiting state approval of signs a week after its deficiencies were described in detail in a report from former Town Engineer Charles Fisher.

“We have to submit signage for approval of the state,” First Selectman Rudy Marconi told The Press on Monday, Sept. 16.

Marconi first raised concern about the bridge with Board of Selectmen at its Sept. 4 meeting, and said that week that state approval of signs might delay the closing.

The priority is to get the bridge closed to trucks — about 18 trucks a day cross the bridge, according to the state — although the town intends to close the bridge to cars, as well. The closing for cars may take a little longer.

“We will be closing it to truck traffic, that’s the biggest issue,” Marconi said.

Jake Muller, who now heads engineering for the town and is handling the bridge situation, expects it will be closed in the next week.

“Waiting on state approval of my signage,” Muller said Tuesday, Sept. 17. “We’re looking to get it closed sooner than later. As soon as I can get approval.”

‘Large voids’

Fisher, who in his retirement does work for the town as a consultant, detailed the problems with the 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.

The detour envisioned would be through Georgetown.

“Based on the inspection report, the DOT’s appraisal rating of the bridge was found to be three out of nine on a numerical scale and was noted to be structurally deficient. In a subsequent report transmittal email, the DOT advised that it may be necessary to restrict truck traffic from the bridge unless a load rating could be established,” Fisher said.

“...Based on the above cited reports and the subsequent joint meeting it is recommended that the town immediately close the Deport Road bridge to truck traffic. A truck detour should be established along Portland Avenue through Georgetown to the Route 7/Route 107 intersection.

“Given the short distance for a vehicular (car) detour between (and) along West Branchville Road and Portland Avenue, the Depot Road Bridge should also be closed to vehicular traffic as well. Northerly access to the railroad station parking lot from West Branchville Road may remain open. It is recommended that quarterly inspections of the bridge should be initiated to protect pedestrians until the bridge has been demolished.”