BRIDGE REPAIR AHEAD OF SCHEDULE, PLANS TO IMPROVE ADDITIONAL STRUCTURES UNDERWAY
(8/17/2007) IN THE WAKE OF THE MINNESOTA BRIDGE TRAGEDY, NEW HAVEN ASSESES PROGRESS ON BRIDGE REPAIR PROGRAM
NEW HAVEN- The Ferry Street Bridge over the Quinnipiac River is scheduled to be re-opened for traffic in February of 2009. Repairs on the bridge over the past months have moved along so well that the contractor, Cianbro Construction, believes the project will be finished months in advance. The Ferry Street Bridge is one of 53 bridges in New Haven for which the City is responsible (a number of other bridges fall under the responsibility of the State or the Federal government or private owners). Bridges in New Haven have been a fabric of the community because of the nature of transportation needs in the City.
Two City-owned bridges are under construction in New Haven while six others are either under design, waiting for funding and approvals or in the process of being eliminated. The State Department of Transportation conducts routine inspections of all bridges. Those structures found to be in need of improvement are identified, redesigned to correct safety issues then go through a process to receive approvals and funding in order to begin construction. Repairs to bridges can range in cost from $10-20 million.
“The Mayor has been paying attention to bridges. I think we’ve definitely done a great job at identifying our assets and working with the State Department of Transportation’s bridge inspection division to react to the need for repairs on our bridges and to plan ahead to protect our residents and structures throughout the city,” said City Engineer Richard Miller. “You can see we’re doing due diligence and taking this seriously.”
The City recently completed work on the Blake Street Bridge over Wilmot Brook and is currently working on the Grand Avenue Bridge over the railroad, a project that is expected to be completed in December of 2009.
“We appreciate the support of the New Haven delegation in securing funding for our bridge improvement projects and look forward to their support as we embark upon additional structural repairs throughout the City,” said Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. “For the size of our City we have an extraordinary amount of bridges. The safety of our residents is our priority. We will continue to be proactive with our bridge repairs so that we never have to endure the tragedies that Minnesota recently experienced.”
There are approximately 590,000 bridges in the United States. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the nation would need to invest $1.6 trillion to bring all bridges to good condition . Moveable bridges that stand over water typically last 20 years before needing major repairs. The average bridge over land has a life span of up to 50 years before major rehabilitation becomes necessary.
New Haven is currently seeking assistance in the form of $7 million to make necessary repairs to the State Street Bridge over the Mill River. The most recent inspection by the Department of Transportation found the State Street Bridge to be in serious condition and has therefore become a priority on the City’s construction list.
“The State Street Bridge is deteriorating,” said Miller. “We need to do something and we need to do it now. Resources are hard to come by and we know that nationally there’s just not enough to go around. We’ve come up with the ten percent that the federal government requires us to invest in order to qualify for funding. We’re hoping that the State will support us financially in these efforts so that we can move forward with construction.”
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