MERIDEN— Construction of the Kensington Avenue bridge is complete, ending the months-long road closure and detour near the Meriden Mall and MidState Medical Center.
The delay in reopening the bridge was caused by a traffic signal light in need of replacement. Supply chain issues during the pandemic meant waiting longer than usual for the signal light, said Mayor Kevin Scarpati.
“I had gotten several phone calls and emails about the delay,” Scarpati said. “The project was done for quite a while before it opened. The issue was the traffic signal. It has taken much longer than anticipated.”
Reopening Kensington Avenue and the intersection was critical for local and state travel, given the resurfacing work on Interstate-691 and resulting detours, Scarpati said. The signal was installed and the intersection opened last Friday.
The Kensington Avenue bridge spans Sodom Brook and work to replace the bridge and its culverts began in early spring. The work is part of the latest $22 million phase of a citywide flood control project.
The project’s goals are to reduce the flood plain from 225 to 95 acres, to remove about 150 properties from the flood plain and to protect an additional 50 properties from flood waters. Key aspects include property acquisition, Harbor Brook channel improvements, 12 bridge replacements and flood water detention at the Meriden Green and Falcon Field.
Much of the work has been finished, including deepening and widening much of Harbor Brook and bridge replacements on Cook, Bradley, and Columbus avenues, as well as Amtrak culverts. In progress are bridge replacements at Cooper, Cedar, and Center streets, with future bridge work slated for Hanover Towers, South Butler Street, and Broad Street, plus Mill Street bridge removal.
Cooper Street remains closed due to construction.
“Cooper Street is progressing,” said Howard Weissberg, public works director. “We have the second culvert and the project progressing on schedule. We expect the road to open up in early December.”
A July downpour tested the work already done to control flooding in the downtown area. City officials said the flooding would have been much worse and lasted longer had there been no improvements made at the Meriden Green and the bridges and culverts. But the work is not finished and they are awaiting funding to begin the next steps, Scarpati said.
Scarpati is seeking re-election to his fourth consecutive two-year term this fall, running as an independent with the Democratic endorsement. His Republican challenger Elain Cariati said Tuesday she supported the city’s flood control initiative overall and added it was important that the road reopen to traffic around the hospital and a nursing home in the area.
“'With another piece of flood control being done, it's a great thing," Cariati said.