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Wednesday, February 01, 2017

CDOT Launches Merritt Newtown Turnpike Bridge Project

The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CDOT) today announced closures connected with the start of a utility upgrade project on the Newtown Turnpike Bridge over the Merritt Parkway in Westport.

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A year ago, a CDOT engineer cited deterioration on the Newtown Turnpike Bridge that could lead to capstone and fascia falling hazards. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

CDOT said utility companies are upgrading their systems to accommodate future bridge safety upgrades—part of a $72 million plan announced a year ago to resurface and renovate 4.95 miles of the Merritt Parkway, including six bridges in Westport from Newtown Turnpike to Fairfield. (See WestportNow Jan. 27, 2016)

The utility contractor plans to have a possible nighttime closure of the northbound and southbound lanes near Exit 41 for 20 minutes on or about Sunday between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m.. weather permitting, in order to run a power line across the parkway, an announcement said.

In addition, it said to expect a one-lane closure of Newtown Turnpike between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. A police officer will be present to direct traffic.

At a CDOT public information session at Westport Town Hall a year ago, David Gruttadauria, a CDOT bridge engineer, said there was an urgent need to restore the Newtown Turnpike Bridge due to deterioration that could lead to capstone and fascia falling hazards.

“The capstones are compromised; it’s like a house without a roof,” he said. “We found that the concrete core was in rough condition. For a bridge to deteriorate that rapidly in eight years (since its last inspection) is of concern.”

Michael Cherpak, CDOT project engineer, told the meeting the parkway resurfacing and bridge restorations scheduled to commence in spring 2017 are designed to improve safety and enhance the 1938-built Merritt Parkway, while maintaining its historic character and aesthetics.

The Merritt overpass bridges in Westport included in the project are on Newtown Turnpike, Wilton Road, Clinton Avenue, Weston Road, Easton Road, and Bayberry Lane plus a major restoration of the bridge over the Saugatuck River.

Cherpak said that when the Merritt opened June 29, 1938, it carried about 18,000 cars daily, traveling at top speeds of 45 mph. Today, 80,000 vehicles travel the 37.5-mile parkway and speeds average 75 mph, he said.

CDOT officials said that when the Westport section is completed within three years after it begins, 82 percent of the Merritt Parkway would be upgraded.

Among the improvements planned are: resurfacing the roadway; installing new drainage; widening the existing right shoulders to 8 feet, consisting of a 4-foot paved shoulder and a 4-foot grass shoulder; removing rock ledges within recommended clear zones; and installing a slip-lined curb and gutter system along the median for drainage and delineation.

The new Merritt Parkway bridge work follows completion last August of repairs on the North Avenue Bridge over the Merritt after more than a year’s delay and $2.4 million in expenditures.

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Posted 02/01/17 at 02:17 PM  Permalink



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