MERIDEN — The city is moving forward with plans to replace the Cedar Street bridge downtown.
The bridge carries traffic over Harbor Brook between Park and Pratt streets.
Earlier this year, the city received notice from the South Central Regional Council of Governments that it had been awarded a $3.8 million state Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program grant toward the project.
Last month, city officials advertised a request for proposals for the project. A pre-bid meeting will be held at City Hall on Dec. 15. Bidding is scheduled to close at 11 a.m. on Dec. 29, according to the advertised request for proposals.
City Engineer Brian Ennis explained the project is part of the larger ongoing Harbor Brook flood control project.
“The bridge is under-sized to pass the required flood flows, so we are replacing the bridge with a larger structure,” Ennis explained. “We’re going to close the road, completely demolish the existing bridge and put a new one in place.”
The project, Ennis said, is similar to the Cooper Street bridge replacement that was completed early this year. That project, which took nine months to complete, began in April 2021.
“We expect Cedar Street to go a little bit quicker because it’s a smaller structure,” Ennis said.
The existing bridge is around 35 feet long. The new structure will be 50 feet long, Ennis explained. The new bridge will be around six inches higher in elevation, Ennis said.
The width of the bridge and roadway will be unchanged.
“Cedar Street doesn’t get all that much traffic. So there’s no reason to widen it,” the city engineer said.
Ennis explained that during severe storms, water from the brook can over top the bridge.
“What happens during the recent storms we’ve had is that the water hits the existing structure. And It backs up into the Carabetta property up the street,” Ennis said. That backup of standing water leads to flooding in the area.
Widening the culvert underneath the bridge and elevating the structure should alleviate that flooding issue.
“This is going to help some of the residential flooding,” Ennis said.
The city has replaced multiple bridges over the course of the Harbor Brook project, replacing bridges along Bradley Avenue, Coe Avenue, Cooke Avenue and Cooper Street. The effort all saw the installation of relief culverts at Columbus Avenue and the Amtrak Railroad bridge, Ennis said.
“We will be done with bridges once we’re done with Cedar and Center,” Ennis said.
Replacing the aging Center Street bridge is a project several years in the making. That project previously had been scheduled to be completed ahead of Cedar Street.
However, the state Department of Transportation has asked the city and its consultant, WMC Consulting, to redo the bridge’s load rating.
“WMC Consulting is finishing up their revised analysis of the structure. Once that gets submitted to DOT, we should be getting ready to go out [to bid on a contractor] then,” Ennis said.
Ennis explained the state changed its procedure regarding assessing load ratings on planned bridge structures. Under the previous method, the contractor building the bridge would be responsible for providing the load rating. Now that’s part of design, rather than construction, Ennis said.
Ennis explained after bids are reviewed and a contract awarded to the lowest responsible bidder, the Cedar Street bridge work should begin in April and be complete by November.
Ennis said after that project is completed the city can proceed with its planned expansion of the Meriden Green.
“The Cedar Street bridge has to be completed before we can do the Green expansion. We only want to dig it up once,” Ennis said, adding that constructing the new bridge foundations will require excavating the area around that foundation.
Completing the Cedar Street bridge project before starting on the larger Center Street project would also facilitate a smoother transition while that roadway is closed.
Ennis said the Center Street project also involves the moving of underground and overhead utilities, including electric and gas lines, of which the Cedar Street project involves significantly less.
“So we can jump right into construction on Cedar,” Ennis said. Meanwhile, Center Street would likely require an additional nine to 12 months of work because of the utility relocation involved, Ennis explained.