By SHERIDAN ROY
A public informational meeting was held on Feb. 20 by Southington’s public works department in collaboration with AECOM, Connecticut Department of Transportation and CJM Engineering regarding an upcoming bridge replacement project for the Spring Street bridge over the Quinnipiac River.
Constructed in 1961 during the construction of I-84, the bridge is showing its age through deterioration, and is currently not up to modern safety requirements. There are a number of potholes with asphalt patches, exposed reinforcing, cracks throughout the underside map, and active leakage through the deck.
“This is considered a high priority deficiency. The deck condition received a rating of 3, which is a serious condition,” said project manager from ACOM Jonathan Ives, “so this has to be addressed.”
The bridge is also scour critical, which Ives said is not a condition evaluation, but an appraisal rating based on a theoretical analysis that states it is possible that during the design, the abutments could be undermined and lose support during a flood event.
According to the National Bridge Inventory evaluation scale, bridge condition can be evaluated between 0 (failed condition) and 9 (excellent condition). A rating of 3 means that a bridge is in serious condition, described as “loss of section, deterioration, spalling or scour have seriously affected primary structural components. Local failures are possible. Fatigue cracks in steel or shear cracks in concrete may be present.”
“We should note that this bridge has been in place since 1961 and has never been undermined during a flood event, so you don’t have to have concerns about driving over it,” said Ives.
Ives said that the ultimate goal of the project is to ensure safety of the traveling public.
“We want a durable, new structure that is economic to build and maintain,” said Ives. “We also want to minimize the inconvenience to traveling public during construction.”
The construction will be similar to the work that was done in 2017 to the W. Center Street bridge. It will include updated guide rail attachments leading up to the bridge. Currently the only guide rails in place are wooden posts with wire, which don’t connect to the parapet of the bridge. In addition, the parapet will be topped by a bridge handrail.
“We want durable structures, so we plan to update the bridge deck to current standards,” said Ives. “The new bridge deck is going to be thicker and more robust. It’s going to have a protection bar on it, so it’s not going to corrode. We won’t have to worry about a deck that’s going to quickly deteriorate into the existing condition.”
The project will eliminate joints, bearings and future painting, minimizing future maintenance.
The plan for construction is to work in two phases, keeping the road open to traffic. Temporary traffic lights will be placed on either side of the bridge, and alternating one-way traffic will be implemented. About two-thirds of the bridge will be demolished and rebuilt in one phase, and the remaining third of the bridge will be demolished and rebuilt in the second phase.
Detours will only be put in place if absolutely needed, Ives said, and will be short and temporary.
The project is currently at 30 percent design. Completion of design is anticipated for late 2019. Right of way permitting then must be completed, followed by construction in 2020 and 2021.
The project is 80 percent funded through the federal local bridge program, so the town is responsible for only 20 percent of the funding. The federal local bridge program covers design, construction of bridge and construction inspection. The town will need to cover the desired extension of the sewer main.
The funding is a reimbursement program, so the town will put up the funding, and later be reimbursed.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Roy, email her at SRoy@SouthingtonObserver.com.