WALLINGFORD — State officials have pushed the expected completion date of the Center Street Bridge replacement to 2022.
That inspired Vinny Ianuzzi, owner of Vinny’s Deli, to run a free sandwich promotion for customers who allow employees to film them singing “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”
Ianuzzi, whose business is located next to the bridge at 576 Center St. (Route 150), said he plans to post the videos online, part of a campaign to grab the attention of legislators.
The promotion underscores how long it’s taking to finish the project. Construction began in 2016.
“It’s ridiculous,” Ianuzzi said. “The Q Bridge was done in nine years, and this is going to take seven years?”
Construction is expected to resume by May 1 after the annual “winter shutdown” ends, said Kevin Nursick, state Department of Transportation spokesman.
Before that, however, work had been stopped for more than a year as DOT engineers assessed the stability of the bridge and modified the existing plan.
“I’m a guy who doesn’t like money being wasted,” Ianuzzi said, “and that’s what’s being done out here.”
The DOT, which is responsible for maintenance because Route 150 is a state road, previously rated the century-old bridge over Wharton Brook structurally deficient and recommended replacement.
“Bridges generally have a life expectancy,” Nursick said, and “will naturally deteriorate over time… Clearly this was not going to be a bridge suitable for rehabilitation.”
The project calls for a concrete deck over a steel girder superstructure supported by concrete abutments resting on bedrock.
The new bridge will be about 13 feet longer and 1 foot wider than the old bridge, with sidewalks.
The bridge replacement is being done in two phases to maintain traffic flow. Cars were pushed to the south side, and the north side of the bridge was demolished.
Construction delays began when the contractor, New Haven-based C.J. Fucci, raised concerns that demolition work on the abutments could destabilize the support structure.
“The abutments could be unstable with heavy construction activity in direct proximity,” Nursick said. “Pounding, digging and smashing potentially could upset the ground and existing bridge abutments, or the foundations, that traffic is using right now.”
DOT found the bridge was stable but the plan needed to be redesigned. Adjustments include installing bracing on the bridge as well as micro-piles, which are “reinforcements installed into the ground,” he said.
Nursick said the changes will add about $2 million over the original cost estimate of $3.9 million.
Ianuzzi said he thinks the DOT is “crying ‘safety.’”
“If you were so concerned about safety, wouldn’t you want to finish this thing quick?” he said.
Nursick said DOT has taken “somewhat extreme measures.”
“Folks that see it every day are saying, ‘what is going on here,’ and I can certainly understand that,” Nursick said, “but we’re doing our best to shepherd the project and do our best to get it squared away.”
Read more articles like this and help support local journalism by subscribing to the Record Journal.
Unlimited Digital Access just 99¢
Read more articles like this by subscribing to the Record Journal.
Unlimited Digital Access for just 99¢