Looking Back: Bridge repairs, more schools

“State rates six town bridges as poor,” read the headline under The Press’s lead photo on March 4, 1993.

A state study of 36 bridges over town roads had revealed that six were in need of repair — or replacement.

“None of these bridges is in danger of collapsing,” Town Engineer Charlie Fisher told the newspaper, “but this is the time to take care of them.”

“We feel they’re strong enough to carry all legal loads but they need some remedial work,” added Michael Lonergan, administrator of the local bridge program.

The lead photo above the story showed a Metro-North repair truck crossing the bridge where Depot Road goes over the Norwalk River by the Branchville train station.

And yes, if you’ve been reading these pages recently, that very bridge is giving the state’s Department of Transportation cause for concern 25 years later.

The other bridges were Mopus Bridge Road over Mopus Brook, Stonehenge Road over the Norwalk River, Florida Road over the Norwalk River, Wilton Road East over the Silvermine River, and Gay Road over the Silvermine River.

Fisher said the $70,000 worth of repairs should be done without hesitation.

“If it’s left unchecked, at some point in the future, we might have [to impose load restrictions],” he said.

50 years ago

Four schools in five years.

It’s hard to fathom in 2018, but Ridgefield’s growth was so substantial in the late 1960s that the town was requesting to see proposals for three new schools, and an educational and cultural complex on East Ridge Road — right down the road from the recently built East Ridge Middle School.

The Press reported in its Feb. 29, 1968, edition that requests for three new school building committees, an approximate schedule for completion of four news schools, a proposed citizens advisory committee on school sizes, and the long-range school building program were all approved at the Board of Education’s meeting Feb. 28.

“The actions represent the beginning of work on a school building program to last through 1973, based on the fact that the town’s school population is growing at the rate of one elementary school (about 600 pupils) per year,” the newspaper stated.

Jack B. Ward of Ward Acres Farm on Peaceable Street had given the Jesse Lee Memorial Methodist Church $50,000 that week in memory of his mother, Ms. Ethel Ward.

The money went a long way.

“The gift has been used to purchase chancel windows, carillonic bells, wooden paneling in the chancel area, chancel furniture which includes a pulpit, lectern, altar table, reredos, cross, communion rail, candlesticks, missal stand and chancel carpet and pew candle holders, four clergy seats, two flower vases, a silver communion service and paraments and table linens,” The Press reported.