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Damage To Merritt Bridge Delays North Avenue Project In Westport

Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe said DOT officials have informed the town that due to engineering delays, construction on the North Avenue Bridge will stop for the winter months and not begin again until spring.
Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe said DOT officials have informed the town that due to engineering delays, construction on the North Avenue Bridge will stop for the winter months and not begin again until spring. Photo Credit: Contributed

WESTPORT, Conn. — Drivers on the North Avenue Bridge over the Merritt Parkway in Westport will continue driving alternating single lanes through the winter months due to unforeseen engineering problems.

First Selectman Jim Marpe said the state Department of Transportation (CT DOT) has informed town officials that there will be further delays in completing the North Avenue Bridge repairs project due to a required revised engineering plan.

Work stoppage for the winter months is expected to shift the project completion date to June 2016, DOT officials said. The bridge has been under construction since early 2015.

“We have been in close contact with the DOT since the inception of this project and have continually urged the DOT to expedite the repairs to the best of its ability," Marpe said. "Prior to the beginning of the school year, we requested that the DOT open at least one lane so that school buses would have access. That accommodation to the town was a great improvement but this latest development is a major disappointment to us all."

"It appears from our discussions with DOT that there is no alternative solution at this time. We have been assured by DOT that it will make all accommodations necessary to leave the bridge job site in a condition whereby snow plows can operate in the winter and that the bridge can be safely traversed. I assure you that we have done all within the town’s limited power to bring the project to an earlier conclusion, but that simply could not be accomplished. I again want to thank all those who are affected for their continued patience,” Marpe said.

DOT said that construction delays were due to numerous accidental strikes by unauthorized oversized vehicles on the Merritt Parkway, causing the integrity of the temporary support system to become compromised, officials said.

To access the damage and make repairs, DOT said the contractor removed the lower support beam of the system on Sept.13, but found that a revised design for a different system providing additional clearance was needed. That design was submitted for review to the District on Nov. 2.

This delay pushed temperature sensitive work into the winter season. The DOT and the contractor agreed to resume work in the spring, given the additional challenges, risks and costs of winter weather work, Marpe said.

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