Westport, DOT address residents’ concerns over bridge replacement

Photo of Serenity Bishop
Westport Town Hall

Westport Town Hall

Ned Gerard

WESTPORT — While residents agree the Greens Farms Road bridge needs to be replaced, they’ve raised concerns about the noise and inevitable detours when construction starts.

Project engineer Andy Shepard said all of the residents’ concerns will be taken into consideration and properly addressed before construction work on the bridge starts in spring 2023, including where the equipment to fix the bridge will be stored.

“The bridge will be closed for construction so that means that the approach can be used for staging,” Shepard said during Tuesday night’s virtual meeting. “If anymore room is needed we can coordinate with the town once we have the contractor on board. The contractor won’t be allowed to place any material or any of their equipment on any property that hasn’t had any easements acquired for the project.”

The DOT is replacing the bridge, which spans Sasco Brook near the Fairfield line, because it was deemed “structurally deficient” during the department’s bi-yearly assessment of the bridge.

DOT spokesman Priti Bhardwaj said bridges that are more than 20 feet long, like the one over Sasco Brook, are inspected every two years with each element of the bridge being scaled on a range of one to nine — nine meaning excellent condition.

During the last bridge inspection, certain elements of the bridge were rated four or lower.

The DOT plans to reinforce the bridge with new concrete structures, even out the shoulders of the bridge because one side is currently bigger than the other side and create two, 12-foot travel lanes. The department also plans to make sure the bridge blends in with its surroundings to maintain Westport’s character.

The project is expected to cost about $2.3 million, 80 percent of which will be paid with federal funds and 20 percent with town money.

“We are looking forward to a successful bridge replacement project with the town of Fairfield,” Westport Town Engineer Keith Wilberg said.

Fairfield’s engineer was also on Tuesday’s call.

Shepard said all coordination with emergency vehicles or buses will be verified with the town to ensure that there are not any delays or conflicts.

Wilberg said he had coordinated with the police and fire department regarding the detours.

One resident asked if all westbound traffic on Greens Farms Road will be diverted to Bulkley Avenue once construction starts, which is anticipated to begin in spring of 2023.

Shepard said the planned detour does include Bulkey. The current detour is 1.2 miles and should take a total of four minutes.

Another resident also asked if there will be time restrictions so that the neighbors surrounding the bridge will not be woken by construction.

“There are statues and everything in place to make sure that we work with the town to make sure the public is aware of everything that is going on and are obviously not affected by any noise restraints or any thing like that,” Shepard said.

Wilberg said that Westport does have a noise ordinance that doesn’t allow construction before 7 a.m. or go any later than 8 p.m. on a weekday.

“We definitely enforce that,” he said.

The construction for the bridge replacement is estimated to be about eight months. For now, the DOT and the town will continue to take public comments into consideration as they continue to plan for the project.