The final phase of Arrigoni Bridge construction is on schedule and set to end by Nov. 13, officials announced at this morning’s meeting at the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce.
“We are in the home stretch, we fully expect to complete on time, we’re slightly ahead of schedule,” said Kenneth E. Fargnoli, the state Department of Transportation engineer coordinating the now $19.4 million bridge project.
The original estimate was for $16,947,000.
The third stage of work, which began in mid-April, has presented traffic issues mostly during rush hour, said chamber President Larry McHugh.
“The traffic problems are in the morning, coming over from Portland, and at night, especially Thursday and Friday, which it really gets backed up going from Middletown to Portland. Outside of that, it’s been a pretty good flow,” McHugh said.
Police officers stationed in Middletown at Grand Street have kept traffic moving along and on the Portland side, First Selectwoman Susan Bransfield said, gridlock and impact on businesses have been minimal.
“I’d like to thank the chamber for keeping commerce going the best we could. Actually, we’ve had no complaints over the last several weeks since we met last — and that’s remarkable,” Bransfield said.
Fargnoli said traffic flow will only improve as summer arrives. “If last summer is any indication, it’s going to be lighter. We’ll keep an officer on the bridge to avoid backups on Route 9 from people headed to the beach,” he said.
Two crews are at work: one on Monday to Friday and a second Tuesday to Saturday to replace the span's metal decking for the first time since it was built in 1938.
Next up, said John Johansen, the project supervisor for Middlesex Corporation, the firm overseeing the work, is deck work.
“The first deck, which will 25 percent of the stage three will take place next Tuesday. Next Wednesday or Thursday, we’ll do the other portion of Portland, which will be half of the bridge. So I’m planning by the end of the month having the total grid deck and the concrete part [complete] from the grid deck to the roadway,” Johansen said.
On June 18, drivers will see construction workers begin to remove one-third of the safety platform underneath the Arrigoni.
Johnson said additional work on the approaches to the bridge on both sides is not definite yet, but a bid has been given to Middlesex Corp.
With that portion of the project in mind, said Middletown Water and Sewer Director Guy Russo, he is preparing a city bid to go out by the middle of July to replace the water main “just at the beginning of the approach on the Middletown side.”
The general water main replacement area, he said, is “down a short section on North Main Street, coming up to the area in front of St. John’s Street, going from O’Rourke’s Diner over by to Royal Display, and a little way up Spring Street. There’s one little crossing that goes through the railroad tunnel that’s there already,” Russo said.
“We’ll proceed with the work in anticipation of other milling and paving that’s going to be done, so it flows pretty seamlessly,” Russo said. It would involve 25 days of work, beginning just after Labor Day and complete by Oct. 1, Russo said, and only at night.
Drivers will be negligibly affected. “Traffic impact is going to be limited to a 40-foot section at any one time as we move,” Russo said.
Fargnoli has said the rebuilding of the bridge decking won’t need to be done again for at least 30 or 40 years.
The next Arrigoni Bridge meeting is Aug 30 at the chamber of commerce on Main Street in Middletown.