Route 35: Town will get unpaved lot by the bridge

Flat and unpaved, an area useful for occasional parking will be left to the town as a legacy of the state’s Route 35 bridge project — now near completion after two and a half years of recurring traffic backups.

“It’s not going to be a formal parking area,” said Town Engineer Charles Fisher. “We’re just going to leave a gravel surface.”

The area is about 125 feet by 200 feet, Parks and Recreation Director Dennis DePinto estimated, and is near the 9/11 memorial. It has been used by the state’s contractor, Bair Construction, for various pieces of equipment.

“If you’re heading into town, on the right, on the other side of the bridge where their staging area was,” DePinto said. “We made sure with the state to leave us more of a road base, so we could use it for a variety of overflow parking events like the carnival, the 9/11 ceremony, duathlon — and ROAR also does a larger event here, as well as a few others.

“This will allow a nice firm surface to park,” he said. “It should be good. We should have to provide very little, if any, maintenance to this thing.”

The location might also be convenient for people using the trail that goes around the Parks and Recreation property, DePinto said.

“It would be a great parking area for the trail itself … our one-mile loop on our campus, which is paved and very well used. It’ll give folks another option for parking at one end of the trail, rather than parking in the middle near our rec center.”

Finish line

State officials say the bridge project is close to being done.

The project began in the fall of 2015, and involved building a temporary bridge to accommodate traffic flow while the lanes were worked on, first one and then the other. Still, there were months of “alternating one-way traffic” that backed up long lines of waiting cars — and frustrated drivers.

Last November, the bridge was reopened to two-way traffic most of the time, but there were recurring periods of a lane being closed, and the return of alternating traffic.

Landscaping work had to wait for spring.

There was alternating one-way traffic as recently as Monday, May 14, when Frontier Communications worked on its manhole in the southbound lane.

“We have just completed the plantings, curbing, sidewalk, and gravel sidewalk,” Charles Murad of the state Department of Transportation (DOT) said Friday, May 11. “Most of the materials and equipment has been demobilized. The contractor and the town are coordinating the grading of a parking area for future town events.

“The utility shift and pole removal is scheduled for the end of May by Eversource.”

A “semifinal inspection” scheduled for Tuesday, May 15, was expected to generate a “punch list” of final cleanup work still needing to be done, according to the Murad.

“The contractor will need to respond to the punch list,” Murad said. “The project will be substantially complete by the end of the month.”

The estimated final cost of the bridge project is $3,840,000, according to Murad.