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OPINION: Your tax dollars at rest

OPINION: Your tax dollars at rest

Hallelujah! The bridge repair is done and the street is back open!

Not the Center Street bridge in Wallingford, mind you. That project has been going on almost forever, but the street has been kept open during most of that time. I think President Washington said a few words in front of Vinny’s Deli before the job got underway. Or maybe that was Mayor Dickinson. 

Either way, if it gets finished on the new projected schedule, the repair/rebuild job will have taken about 770 days, counting a year-long, back-to-the-drawing-board delay because of worries about the stability of the foundations. That’s almost half the time it took to build the Golden Gate Bridge, which opened in 1937 after about 1,600 days of construction, although I’m sure that’s not a fair comparison. There can be all kinds of complications, even on a small job, that we peasants, I mean civilians, wouldn’t understand.

On the other hand, we’re talking about an 8,981-foot suspension bridge that soars over the treacherous waters where San Francisco Bay meets the Pacific Ocean, vs. a short span across little old Wharton Brook. But that’s just me.

No, I’m talking about the Burnham Street bridge that spans the mighty Mattabesset River in Berlin, although “river” might be far too grand a word. And, at about 185 days, this project has taken pretty close to half the time it took to build the Empire State Building — 103 stories providing 2.8 million square feet of office space held up by 365,000 tons of steel, which took 410 days to assemble and opened in 1931.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, either. Maybe there was less paperwork back then.

Meanwhile, work continues on the bridge that takes West Main Street over Sodom Brook in Meriden. It’s an area worth avoiding, since westbound traffic gets squeezed down to one lane there. Maybe that’s why McDonald’s decided to rehab their place at this time. Bridge work started in early July of 2018 and is set to wrap up in June of 2020. Seems like more than enough time, but what do I know?

They had to tear down the former Bradley Diner before starting this project, which reminds me of a time, years ago, when I stepped into that diner for lunch. There was one guy behind the counter, whom I took to be the owner because he was the only one there. Then I noticed a Polaroid photo pinned up on the wall, labeled “Employee of the Month.” It was the same guy.


Let’s see, what else can I gripe about?

A couple of Sundays ago I was driving west on Church Street in Yalesville, well after dark, and the state was doing some major pavement work there. But I couldn’t help wondering what was so urgent that they were doing it on a Sunday night, at what must be the highest overtime rate short of working on Christmas Day or Thanksgiving. I’ve never seen so many traffic cones; they were lined up from where Route 68 goes over Route 5, past Route 150, to about where the Corner Café is. The electric sign says the work will go on through Nov. 1. 

If so, I hope it was at a lower pay rate.

Reach Glenn Richter at