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Weston Celebrates Opening Of 'Bridge In A Backpack'

The new bridge on Route 57 in Weston is now open to traffic after the state DOT utilized a new construction technique to finish the work quickly.
The new bridge on Route 57 in Weston is now open to traffic after the state DOT utilized a new construction technique to finish the work quickly. Photo Credit: State of Connecticut

WESTON, Conn. - Local and state lawmakers came together for the recent grand opening of the new bridge on Route 57 in Weston, the first “Bridge in a Backpack."

The State Department of Transportation received a federal innovation grant to use “Bridge-in-a-Backpack,” a technique that allows bridges to be built in weeks instead of months.

Transportation Commissioner James Redeker said that by using fiber reinforced polymer tubes, there was no need for heavy construction equipment, steel beams or freight trucks. It also accelerates construction of the project and reduces the cost of replacing a bridge.

“Reducing construction time results in cost savings, and this is one of the many quick-building design and construction methods that CTDOT have in our toolbox,” said Redeker. “Our goal is to not only restore our infrastructure to a state of good repair, we are also striving to save taxpayer money and minimize disturbances to the traveling public by cutting down the time it typically takes to replace a bridge.”

The bridge spans the West Branch of the Saugatuck River. The original bridge, built in 1933, had been classified as “structurally deficient” and had an average of 9,100 vehicles crossing per day.

It was successfully replaced in 16 weeks with a new arch structure "consisting of prefabricated fiber reinforced polymer tubes with self-consolidating concrete, fiber reinforced polymer decking panels, which forms the arch, and are covered with subbase material, pavement and cast-in-place moment slabs with barrier curb" a statement from the CTDOT said.

"A few years ago, ‘Bridge-in-a-Backpack’ techniques were brand new to the world, but now I'm proud to note that Weston is in the forefront of locals utilizing this fascinating technology to improve their safety and traffic concerns,” said state Rep. John Shaban (R-Weston).

“This type of transportation upgrade is essential to the community. Route 57 is heavily traveled and having a safe viable route is critical,” said state Sen. Toni Boucher (R-Wilton). "The use of such advanced techniques is exciting and really opens the door to infinite possibilities moving forward."

The Route 57 roadway was widened to accommodate a 12-foot travel lane and 5-foot shoulder/bike lane in each direction.

The “Bridge-in-a-Backpack” process was captured in this CTDOT Time-Lapse Video of the Route 57 Replacement Project.

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