Drivers traveling along one stretch of Main Street can see the Sippin Energy and Ace Hardware buildings and scenic views of Pequonnock Reservior. What's not visible is the erosion on the undersides of two aging bridges that have carried traffic along the state roadway since 1927.
Connecticut Department of Transportation inspections revealed exposed rebar and deteriorating concrete among the conditions warranting the estimated $9 million replacement of both bridges.
Michael N. Calabrese, the DOT's project manager, says the projects will be fully funded by the state and work should begin by the fall of 2014, taking about a year to complete.
He and Michael Cherpak, the project engineer for the DOT, made a presentation at a public information meeting at Monroe Town Hall on Tuesday night.
Town Land Use Director/Engineer Scott Schatzlein was on hand to answer questions. State Rep. DebraLee Hovey (R-112th) and Town Councilman Nick Kapoor also attended the meeting.
Calabrese said the roadway will be closed for two weekends for each bridge project, adding on weekdays there will be alternating traffic in one lane for construction during off-peak hours. He said detours will be set up on Monroe Turnpike and Route 34.
One of the bridges is about 1,300 feet long, alongside Sippin Energy and Ace Hardware. Calabrese said the pavement there would be raised three feet to resolve frequent flooding conditions when the level of the west branch of the Pequonnock River rises and flows across the road.
The second bridge, which is about 400 feet long, goes over the Pequonnock Reservoir.
Robert W. Ike, a supervisor for the Office of Rights of Way, explained how the state has to acquire portions of properties owned by the Sippins and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for the projects. According to the process, the state estimates the value of the properties and the owners have the right to negotiate a settlement if they believe it's too low.
Calabrese said an agreement has already been reached with the Sippins.
No Widening of Route 25
The need for the project is based upon a DOT inspection of the bridges in 1999. There was a public meeting in 2000 for what was then a plan, not only to replace the bridges, but to widen Main Street to four lanes. But Calabrese said those projects were scrapped the following year for financial reasons.
ConnDOT received funding for the bridge replacements again in 2009, when the plan reverted back to a two-lane concept.
Calabrese said the projects will involve the temporary and permanent re-locations of utilities, adding any driveways affected by construction will be regraded and paved.
During the question and answer period, Steve Kirsch of Monroe expressed concern that the duration of the project will take a toll on Old Newtown Road, which he believes it will frequently be used as a cut-through. Kirsch asked if the road could be repaved before work begins on the bridge replacements.
But the DOT representatives assured him the projects will actually take less than a year to complete.