WALLINGFORD — The Town Council greenlit a multi-million dollar reconstruction project on the Northford Road Bridge on Tuesday, with an expected completion date of late November.
Wallingford’s engineering department first began eyeing repairs in 2015 after a state Department of Transportation inspection indicated the bridge required replacement due to structural deficiencies and labeled doing so a “high priority.”
Town Hall initially allocated $1 million for bridge repairs eight years ago and moved this week to increase funding by an additional $1,030,000, raising the final price tag to $2,030,000.
Council Chairman Vincent Cervoni said the price increase came after the lowest qualified bid from a contractor came in at nearly $2 million to rebuild the Northford Road Bridge.
“My recollection is the original estimate on the project in 2015 was $1 million and that is what we bonded for,” Cervoni said. “The lowest qualified bidder came in somewhere between $1.8 and $1.9 million, so the additional $1,030,000 is to cover the difference.”
Cervoni said grants may cover a portion of the cost of construction.
Repairs to the nearly 100-year-old bridge will address a variety of safety concerns, including “deteriorating” concrete and rusting metal beams, Mayor William Dickinson Jr. said.
Construction will also entail widening the bridge to accommodate two 12-foot road lanes and doubling the adjacent Muddy River opening from 20 to 40 feet wide with the goal of reducing flood risks in the area, town engineer Alison Kapushinski said.
Kapushinski said engineers are hoping to break ground on the project in mid-April, with a roughly eight month timeline for completion, weather permitting. The Northford Road Bridge will be closed for the duration of repairs, with an official detour route directing motorists to Route 17, but attractions such as the nearby Tyler Mill entrance will remain open to the public, she added.
Dickinson provided recommendations for alternative routes to reach downtown Wallingford, including traveling by way of Cooke and Whirlwind Hill roads.
Dickinson said he empathized with residents who may grow frustrated with the inconvenience of a closed bridge, but stressed the long term benefits.
“Obviously it's going to require patience from people, but there'll be a far better, safer bridge,” Dickinson said. “So overall, it's a positive improvement. That’s a plus for everyone.”