The state Department of Transportation is moving ahead with a $10 million project to raise an I-95 bridge that has been hit several times by trucks.
DOT says it’s been struck so many times the bridge is “structurally deficient and functionally obsolete.” In 2015, one truck strike was so severe it damaged steel girders and a waterline underneath the bridge.
The problem with the 60-year-old Strawberry Hill Avenue bridge is not enough clearance over I-95.
Plans include increasing the clearance from 14 feet, 1 inch to 16 feet, 3 inches so trucks, hopefully, won’t slam into it.
The bridge is located about a half-mile from (East Avenue) Exit 16, an area that’s often a traffic choke point during peak drive times.
Once a truck hits the bridge, it often becomes stuck, causing a traffic nightmare with closed lanes, detours and hours of cleanup and removal.
On April 15, 2014, a tractor trailer hit another truck carrying bundles of rolled paper, each weighing 2,400 pounds. The trailer split open from the collision, which caused the trailer to buckle under the weight of cargo and jammed under bridge.
With planning in the final design phase, construction is anticipated to begin next spring. It should take two years to finish.
But before work can begin, a public hearing will be held on Thursday, June 28 in Norwalk City Hall. An open forum for individual discussions with DOT reps will begin at 6:30p.m., followed by a formal presentation at 7 p.m.
Among the key features of the project:
The new bridge will maintain the existing Strawberry Hill Road travel and turn lane configuration.
Bridge construction involves reconstruction of the median pier and bridge abutments, relocation of utilities to the underside of the bridge structure, and replacement of the concrete deck material and asphalt surface material. The water main would also be relocated back under the bridge.
Raising of the bridge requires modification to the Norwalk’s local roads in order to meet the new bridge elevation. These modifications will extend several hundred feet north and south along Strawberry Hill Avenue, east along Norden Place, and west along Beacon Street.
One travel lane in each direction will be maintained along Strawberry Hill Avenue during peak hours.
Alternating one-way traffic operations and occasional temporary detours will be in place.
Lane shifts and periodic lane reductions will occur along both directions of Interstate 95 as required during allowable periods.
Last year, the DOT altered its schedule for overhauling the Strawberry Hill Avenue Bridge by removing it from an Interstate 95 project involving median reconstruction and roadway resurfacing.
Norwalk officials were concerned that DOT was not coordinating the work with the Walk Bridge (project) and using Strawberry Hill as a major bypass and detour.
DOT says now that the Strawberry Hill Avenue bridge has been broken out as a separate project it will have a lessened “simultaneous traffic impact” with the Walk Bridge work.
Anyone wishing to discuss the project may contact Andy Fesenmeyer at (860) 594-3228 or by e-mail at [email protected].