North Main Street Bridge Project Funding Restored

North Main Street bridge looking north. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

The state’s moratorium on DOT-funded municipal projects has been lifted which will allow work to begin on rehabilitating the North Main Street bridge and a culvert on Braeburn Road.

Piers on west side of North Main Street bridge show deterioration in early 2018. Photo courtesy of Town of West Hartford

By Ronni Newton

State funding the Town of West Hartford had planned to use for bridge rehabilitation has now been freed up, allowing repair of bridges on North Main Street and Braeburn Road to move forward.

The state had placed a moratorium on monies for DOT-funded municipal projects, Town Manager Matt Hart said, causing the town’s roughly $1.8 million in bridge repair projects to be put on hold. The state is funding about 60 percent of the work – just under $1 million – while the remainder was set aside in the town’s Capital Improvement Fund several years ago.

The North Main Street bridge over Trout Brook West Branch just north of Wyndwood Road, built in 1901, was classified as “poor” by the state Department of Transportation, although Town Engineer Duane Martin said previously that the bridge is structurally sound.

“This is a very important project not just for the town but for the region,” Town Manager Matt Hart said. About 20,000 vehicles currently cross the bridge on a daily basis, he said.

South side of bridge over Braeburn Road culvert, facing east. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

Funding freed up by the state will also allow for rehabilitation of the culvert on the bridge that carries Braeburn Road over Trout Brook, located just east of the driveway to Braeburn Elementary School. A new parapet will also be installed, and will allow the watercourse to be visible. The existing bridge and culvert were constructed in 1960.

“We are working hard to start this construction season,” Hart said.

Work on the North Main Street bridge was to have started in March or April of 2019, and should take about 18 months to complete.

Martin said preciously that during the construction, half of the bridge will be worked on at a time so that one lane of North Main Street in each direction will be kept open along with a sidewalk on one side. A temporary traffic signal will be installed, allowing pedestrians to safely cross the road and traffic from both Wyndwood Road and Linbrook Road to safely turn onto North Main Street. The signal will be removed once the work is completed.

The Braeburn Road bridge project, which should take about four months, was to have started this summer, to minimize work being done during the school year.

Both projects were among the transportation projects that had their funding frozen by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in January 2018, but were then approved by the State Bond Commission in July 2018, only to be held up again this year.

When the town learned about the recent moratorium, Hart said, “We quickly reached out to our legislative delegation.”

He expressed his thanks in particular to State Rep. Joe Verrengia and Jonathan Harris, now senior advisor to Gov. Ned Lamont.

Concept No. 1, presented as part of a CRCOG study in 2016, will be used for a road diet trial on North Main Street in West Hartford. (we-ha.com file photo)

Hart said that the trial for the North Main Street road diet, which was approved by the Town Council this winter, should not be impacted by the delay.

While bridge rehabilitation work is underway, an implementation plan for marking the roadway will developed and public outreach will be coordinated by town staff and take place in advance of the road diet trial. The road diet trial will commence once the bridge work is complete.

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