It’s been a long time coming, but the South Park Avenue bridge between Buck Hill Road and Marich Drive is on track to open as soon as the end of May.
The Planning and Zoning Commission and Conservation Commission unanimously approved a special permit to replace the South Park Avenue bridge in a flood plain in April 2018.
The original plan was to close the bridge for replacement from June 17 through November 2019, when the job was scheduled for completion, but a conflict between the town and contractor caused the project to stall.
The work has still not been completed, and the bridge has yet to reopen. Ferndale Drive residents complained in late February about speeding cars during rush hour with people forced to take detours to get to the Merritt Parkway and points south.
“There was much disagreement between the town and the contractor when I took office as to what the delays,” First Selectman David Bindgelglass said this week. Bindelglass took office in November, the month when the bridge was supposed to open, but the work had not been done.
Of course the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed commuter traffic considerably since Governor Ned Lamont enacted social distancing and shelter at home orders in mid-March, with schools and all but
essential businesses remaining closed.
“We are on a better footing now but then were met with some engineering issues which I think are now behind us as well,” Bindelglass said. “The main beams were laid several weeks ago, and we hope to be paving in the next few weeks, which would mean opening before the end of May.”
Ferndale Drive resident Chris Catropa said he hopes construction is completed as quickly as possible to minimize any additional disruptions. “The increased traffic on Ferndale Drive makes it difficult for walking,” Catropa said. “The speeding down the street especially during rush-hour times keeps everyone on edge.”
South Park Avenue is a heavily traveled commuter road near the Merritt Parkway’s Exit 47 Interchange.
“As for the residents on Ferndale, I am sure they are absolutely correct and they have personally paid the price for the delays,” Bindelglass said. “We have periodically increased the police presence on Ferndale, but there is no way that could be adequate. The solution is to finish the bridge, hopefully before we start having rush hour again. It is something I check on daily.”