Work on the project is going so well that state transportation officials want to expand it slightly to include repaving the approaches to the bridge on the Middletown and Portland sides.
Kenneth E. Fargnoli, the state Department of Enviromental Protection engineer coordinating the bridge project, said the work is still on schedule to finish by November. During a morning meeting with the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce and various local officials, Fargnoli also said state officials are negotiating with Middlesex Corporation, the firm overseeing the work, on including road paving on either side of the bridge “so we don’t have to come back here for some time.”
If that work goes forward, Fargnoli said, it will not delay the anticipate completion date of the work.
The third and final phase of the project started last week when the two remaining open lanes of traffic on the bridge were shifted to allow crews to begin working on the north side of the span.
John Johansen, the project supervisor for Middlesex Corporation, said the work to replace the bridge’s decking continues to run smoothly and on schedule. He said there are currently three shifts working around the clock on the bridge, two during the day and one at night.
The delays that were experienced in the first phase of the project last summer were related to problems with getting vendors to deliver materials on time, he said.
That issue has long since been resolved and all of the materials needed are either on site or ready to be delivered.
“I feel confident that there are no issues ahead of us,” he said.
Middletown Mayor Dan Drew attended the meeting and lauded both the state and the contractor for the now problem-free project.
“This has really been a collaborative effort. This project is going smoothly and I very much appreciate it.”
Fargnoli said that while the DOT in five to 10 years might have to return for minor maintenance work on the bridge, the rebuilding of its decking won’t need to be done again for at least 30 or 40 years.
“You won’t be facing one lane of traffic in each direction again for a very long time,” he told about 25 town leaders and emergency responders from Portland and Middletown who attended the meeting.