Bridge opening nears

Weather permitting, the bridge on Simpaug Turnpike may be open to traffic next Monday evening or Tuesday morning.

First Selectman Natalie Ketcham said she was informed by Jim Zaharevich, bridge project engineer for the state Department of Transportation, that the roadway’s base and top coats of paving must be in place for the bridge to open.

The base coat of six inches can be laid if the temperature is above 30 degrees; the three-inch top coat requires a temperature above 40 degrees. If both coats were in place by Friday, the bridge could have opened then.

However, on Wednesday morning, Mr. Zaharevich said the weather and snow earlier this week did affect the schedule “a little bit.” As a result, he  said, paving will be done on Friday and Monday.

“The weather is looking better for next week,” he said.

The bridge over the Metro-North railroad tracks was originally slated to be completed this past July, but there have been a number of setbacks, including those caused by last year’s Tropical Storm Irene and by Alfred, the October nor’easter, along with last month’s Superstorm Sandy. There were also some environmental and materials issues that had to be addressed.

Work began on the bridge in October 2011. The state is overseeing and paying for the bridge replacement project, which is estimated to cost almost $3.2 million.

The bridge is considered an “orphan bridge” by the state since its ownership is either lost or unspecified. The state DOT takes ownership for safety reasons.

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