Preliminary work will begin Jan. 28 in preparation for full-scale rehabilitation of the North Main Street that will involve lane closures for more than a year.
By Ronni Newton
Favorable weather conditions will result in the commencement of preliminary work in the area of the North Main Street Bridge on Jan. 28, readying the area for the major bridge rehabilitation project when the weather breaks for good in the spring.
As part of the preliminary work about 20 trees will be removed, Town Engineer Duane Martin said. Most are smaller trees that are too close to the bridge, and some will be temporarily relocated and returned to the area once the project is complete.
Tree removal crews will occupy one lane at a time while working, but should only be on site for a few days and the traffic control plans for the major portion of the project will not be put into place until the main phase is ready to begin.
A public information meeting was held in mid-January to present the final plans for the overall project and answer questions, Martin said. Anyone could attend, and invitations were also mailed to about 200 property owners, mostly abutters of the project on North Main Street between Fern Street and Asylum Avenue.
About 30 people attended, Martin said, and questions primarily focused on traffic control plans.
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 Martin said previously that the bridge is structurally sound.
The Town of West Hartford has been planning this project for several years, but funding was held up by the state several times. The state is funding about 60 percent of the work – just under $1 million of the $1.8 million project – and the remainder was set aside in the town’s Capital Improvement Fund several years ago.
The entire project is expected to be completed by the summer of 2021, and during the rehabilitation work, traffic flow will be reduced to one lane in each direction in a shifting pattern as phases of the work are completed.
“We will have a temporary traffic signal installed to help pedestrians who need to cross,” Martin said, as well as for vehicles accessing North Main Street from Wyndwood Road and Linbrook Road.
To facilitate lane closures, Martin said concrete barriers will be used to separate the work zone from traffic, and those barriers will be moved as the project progresses.
There will not be detours in place as access in both directions will be provided throughout the duration of the project, but Martin said slow traffic is expected due to “lane drops and tight lanes due to the construction site,” and motorists may want to seek alternate routes.
Sidewalk access will be restricted as the work zone moves, but one sidewalk will remain open at all times, he said.
Work hours will be Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m., and there will be no night work and no weekend work, Martin said. Lane closures and sidewalk closures will be in place even while work is not taking place.
A PDF (see below) of Martin’s PowerPoint presented at the public information meeting shows the location of the traffic signal as well as plan for the shifting lanes closures.
Some of the work will be taking place below the bridge, particularly a 10-foot segment on the west side that will need to be completely replaced, Martin said.
In addition, the project will include installation of timber guide rails on the east side (south of the bridge) and the west side (north of the bridge). Owners of the properties where the guide rails will be installed have been made aware, said Martin.
Martin said the contractor is confident the project can be completed by the end of the summer of 2021, and if weather permits will work through next winter.
“This is a very important project not just for the town but for the region,” Town Manager Matt Hart said previously. About 20,000 vehicles currently cross the bridge on a daily basis, he said.
While the project is underway, a consultant will be engaged and an implementation plan for the North Main Street road diet trial will be developed, and public outreach will be coordinated by town staff, Martin said.
The road diet pilot, which is a separate project, will begin once the bridge work has been completed.
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