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.”

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By Nancy Doniger

Nancy Doniger worked as a journalist for three decades and was a founding editor of the nonprofit Easton Courier in partnership with the School of Communications, Media & the Arts at Sacred Heart University (SHU). She served two years as executive member and is now a contributing editing of the Easton Courier. She was a former managing editor of Hometown Publications and Hersam Acorn Newspapers covering Connecticut's Fairfield and New Haven counties. She was a correspondent for the Connecticut section of The New York Times from 1995 until the section was discontinued in 2006. Over the years she edited The Easton Courier, The Monroe Courier, The Bridgeport News and other community newspapers. She taught news editing as an adjunct professor at SHU and served as coordinator and member of the Community Assets Network for the Easton, Redding and Region 9 schools. She was a member of the Newtown Community Center Commission, member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), board member of the New England Newspaper and Press Association (NENPA), and past president and board member of the Barnard Club of Connecticut. She has won awards for her writing from SPJ and NENPA.

One thought on “South Park Avenue Bridge on Track to Open This Month”
  1. […] The new South Park Avenue bridge is officially open. First Selectman David Bindelglass cut the ceremonial ribbon along with contractor Nick Mancini of NJR Construction and Ed Nagy, Easton Department of Public Works director. Shortly after, Police Chief Rich Doyle became the first person to cross the bridge. For more information about the bridge project, see our previous article here. […]

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