Westport RTM approve nearly $2.4M to replace Bayberry Lane bridge

Photo of Katrina Koerting
Westpot is working to replace the Bayberry Lane Bridge over the Aspetuck River and finally get it back to two lanes of traffic..

Westpot is working to replace the Bayberry Lane Bridge over the Aspetuck River and finally get it back to two lanes of traffic..

File Photo / File Photo

WESTPORT — The Representative Town Meeting unanimously approved nearly $2.4 million to replace the Bayberry Lane Bridge over the Aspetuck River and finally get it back to two lanes of traffic.

While the RTM appropriated the full amount, the town is expected to be reimbursed 80 percent through the federal local bridge program, meaning the actual cost to the town will be about $500,000.

“The town really only has to pay 20 percent of the $2.4 million,” said Public Works Director Peter Ratkiewich. “We do have to front it, but we receive it back.”

Work on the span dates back to 2014 or so when the town did emergency repairs to extend the life of the bridge. “Significant structural deficiencies” were found at the time that had been caused by “scour” from recent storms. The damage is caused when sediment, such as sand and rocks, is washed away by swiftly moving water from the base of the bridge abutments, which could eventually undermine the structure’s strength.

The town addressed it and reopened the bridge.

In 2017 though, the state downgraded the bridge and told the town the bridge’s outer beams could no longer support "full traffic loads" and the town had to rely only on the center beams, making it a one-lane bridge until the entire span could be replaced.

The town bodies approved the funding to design the new bridge back in 2019 or so, which has since been completed, Ratkiewich said.

He said if they successfully go out to bid for the project this winter, then work could start by April.

“If we get some form of warm weather before then, we’ll try to start before then,” Ratkiewich said.

Plans for the bridge would increase the span of it from approximately 25 feet to 70 feet. The design also allows for the utilities to be run under the bridge, said RTM member Jay Keenan, who also chairs the RTM public works committee.

He said the project had been included in the town’s capital forecast and this figure is lower than what was budgeted.

Ratkiewich said they won’t know for sure what the costs are until they get bids back but he feels the $2.4 million price is accurate.

He did caution there’s a chance for a spike any time a project uses timber or other commodities based on available supplies.

“The markets are very volatile and prices do fluctuate extensively,” Ratkiewich said.

Other members worried the supply chain issues could delay the project’s timeline.

Ratkiewich said they expect to have the project done by Nov. 1. The bridge would be closed while the work is being done, which he said was the most efficient approach.

Detours would be in place, having people north of the bridge take Lyons Plain Road and those south taking Easton Road.

“This is the same detour we did when we did a temporary and emergency repair back in 2014,” he said.