In an April 2019 editorial, we had a little fun with the Center Street bridge situation in Wallingford, noting that “empires have fallen and skyscrapers have risen in less time than it’s taking to rebuild the little bridge on Center Street in Wallingford.” Vinny Ianuzzi, owner of nearby Vinny’s Deli, was running a free sandwich promotion for customers willing to be recorded singing “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”
A good sense of humor goes a long way, but what hasn’t been funny was how the listless little bridge project was affecting nearby merchants and transportation.
Now an end appears to be in sight, as Kevin Nursick, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, recently put it. Since Center Street is a state highway (Route 150) the state has been in charge. Nursick said “substantial completion” of the project is expected by Nov. 1.
What does “substantial completion” mean? “It’s like you’ve painted the walls in your house, but then you just need to go back and paint the outlet covers,” explained Nursick.
At this point, that sounds like great news, particularly since two-way traffic over the bridge has begun.
It’s been a tale of frustration, with the replacement project starting in 2016. As the Record-Journal recently reported: “after the north side of the bridge was demolished, construction delays began when the contractor raised concerns that demolition work on the abutments could destabilize the support structure.” The plan needed a redesign, and work started again in 2019 after it had been stopped for more than a year.
It’s a relief that the work is finally going to be coming to an end. However, that so small a project could take so long is not confidence-building. “This is the exception, not the rule,” said Nursick.
“All we can do is hope,” we said in April a year ago, that the Center Street bridge job would get “wrapped up sooner than later.” While that now appears to be what’s happening, the project is likely to remain a sore spot, an example of how even the seemingly little things can lead to lingering troubles.