The Amtrak railroad bridge across New Britain Avenue in the Elmwood section of West Hartford is finally going to be repainted, State Rep. Joe Verrengia announced.
By Ronni Newton
Decades after town leaders first began advocating for repainting of the unsightly railroad bridge that spans New Britain Avenue in the eastern end of West Hartford, crews are on scene and work is commencing to improve the bridge’s aesthetic appearance.
Stat Rep. Joe Verrengia, whose 20th District includes Elmwood where the bridge is located, announced Monday that work was about to begin on the Amtrak bridge.
“This project has been on my radar since the day I was elected over eight years ago. I am ecstatic that it is finally coming to fruition and that we were able to allocate the needed resources to make it happen,” Verrengia said.
“We’ve been waiting for this for many, many, many, many years,” said Dr. Rick Liftig, who heads the Elmwood Business Association and has a dental practice just off New Britain Avenue.
When asked to clarify how many “many’s” he had just uttered, Liftig laughed, but said that in reality it has been at least 20 years since local businesses and residents identified the need for repainting, and at least eight or 10 years since there have been active efforts to have the work done. Liftig joked that at one point, there was a suggestion to have a “guerrilla group” spray paint the bridge to at least somewhat improve the appearance.
The Town of West Hartford has been sending violation notices to Amtrak for years, but had gotten nowhere until Verrengia finally got Amtrak to agree about three years ago that the bridge needed work, Liftig said.
The state’s Department of Transportation is funding the project, which carries a price tag of $331,400. Work includes abrasive blast removal of the existing paint surface and re-painting of the fascia beam of the bridge.
The project also involves the disposal of hazardous materials, Liftig said, and is complicated by having crews working in a busy intersection and also remaining safe as trains cross the bridge.
“We had wonderful plans, had floated the idea of a mural, of pretty colors,” Liftig said, but then the cost kept rising. Instead the bridge will be painted a solid color.
“It will be oxblood red,” Liftig said.
“This bridge serves as a gateway to the Elmwood community and this project will complement the millions of dollars that have been invested in the beatification of this section of town,” where work has already been done to improve the roadway and streetscape of New Britain Avenue, Verrengia said.
“This is a long awaited and welcomed project for Elmwood and I thank Rep. Verrengia for his work in making it happen,” Mayor Shari Cantor said. “I am pleased to see this gateway to West Hartford get the much-needed attention our residents expect and deserve.”
Getting to this point has been so much more complicated than he ever anticipated but he is thankful that the work is finally beginning, Liftig said. “It takes one person to really get it done, and Joe Verrengia deserves that credit.”
According to Verrengia’s office, the work should be complete on May 19.
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