BREAKING NEWS: North Avenue Bridge Closed — Again — Through August

For the 2nd year in a row, North Avenue will be closed between Cross Highway and Easton Road. The closure — announced today by the state Department of Transportation — is due to work on the Merritt Parkway bridge.

The closure begins next Monday — June 20 — and will be in effect for 2 months. The DOT says the bridge is “expected” to reopen by August 25.

Yes, this is the same project that was supposed to be finished in time for the opening of school — in 2015.

Then the target date was pushed back 10 months, to June 30, 2016.

They missed that deadline too. By at least an entire summer.

Temporary traffic lights will be useless, starting Monday. North Avenue will once again be closed.

Temporary traffic lights will be useless, starting Monday. North Avenue will once again be closed.

Final completion is set for September 15.

And if you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.

If you’re interested, here is the full press release from DOT:

The Connecticut Department of Transportation is announcing the full closure of the North Avenue Bridge (over Route 15) beginning on June 20, 2016.  The closure is necessary to facilitate ongoing construction activities.  The bridge is expected to reopen by August 25, 2016.

The project consists of the full rehabilitation of the existing bridge structure, including removal of the western spandrel, concrete patch repair of the underside and surface of the bridge and full deck replacement. The purpose of the project is to improve the structural deficiencies and preserve the integrity of the bridge.

Due to numerous crashes caused by illegal oversized vehicles last year, the integrity of the temporary support system was compromised. The temporary support system was removed and a different system with greater clearance will be utilized..

CTDOT Project No. 0158-0208 was awarded to Blakeslee Arpaia Chapman, Inc. of Branford, CT on March 12, 2015, at a cost of $2,854,817.14 and is scheduled to be completed by September 15, 2016.

The "Construction Ahead" sign should actually have read "Construction Site Ahead." There has been virtually no work done on the bridge for months.

The “Construction Ahead” sign should actually have read “Construction Site Ahead.” There has been virtually no work done on the bridge for months.


40 responses to “BREAKING NEWS: North Avenue Bridge Closed — Again — Through August

  1. To paraphrase a road sign from our childhoods:
    “Your Tax Dollars At Work. NOT.”

  2. The is the same DOT that wants to replace the Cribari bridge. The same DOT Malloy wants to fund with $100 billion in taxpayer dollars to reward his cronies.

  3. Hiroshi Asada

    I wonder how this would affect other roads — more traffic on Main, Cross Highway, Baryberry Roseville, etc.? Would it affect access to Merritt? I typically use Compo North, then Main St. or Cross Highway to Exit 42. Should I use Exit 41 instead of 42? Any suggestions?

    • Last summer, the traffic was about the same as it was when the bridge was open. I live right by exit 42 and it was about the same as always. This is probably because it’s Westport and half the town is gone in the summer.

  4. This is Saugatuck’s future if DOT has its way with the Saugatuck Swing Bridge! I urge everyone to come down to Town Hall Auditorium tomorrow night at 7:00 pm and hear what DOT is planning. You can read about their plan here:

    Please come and tell DOT exactly what you think tomorrow night!

    For more info go to the Westport Preservation Alliance Website.

  5. Harris Falk

    This is what happens by not doing a project correctly. Instead of replacing a bridge, the government will decide to patch it. This is usually because of a double uproar from the community, time and taxes. So, they start a patch job, which invariably takes more time and costs more.

  6. Coming from the “management” of the least competent state, this is unfortunate but not surprising. It’s an engineering disaster … they had to cease work for a year to figure out how to stop trucks from hitting the bridge? Let’s see, how about the state troopers who are sitting in their cars blocking a lane at every worksite in CT, including this one, getting out and stopping oversized vehicles before they hit the bridge? That would have been a whole lot cheaper (it was already in the budget … now we’ll pay for two years of their service) and more convenient for people dependent upon the bridge (who will have to drive around it for two summers, instead on one). It’s also a communications disaster … the need to close the bridge had to have been known for some time. Why did they have to wait until the week before to make the announcement (probably just to prove how incompetent the DOT is)? This is one big cluster …

  7. Sharon Paulsen

    For Pete’s sake. Won’t this cause major traffic delays at rush hours (not “hour” singular, because that’s a misnomer in CT these days). You know, affecting the back road “long cuts”?

    For some reason, the movie Casino comes to mind.
    For instance, towards the end of the film, how quickly an old casino is imploded, and then how quickly a totally brand new and complexly-detailed building is put up in its place. And isn’t there some accuracy to that?

    (Oh wait, what happens in Vegas … ONLY … happens … in … Vegas.)
    Ahem, just my little twist on the marketing powerhouse.

    I guess if it’s revenue-generating, boy they better build it pretty damn quick.

    But if it’s an “inconvenience” to drivers, well hey, then no rush.

    Hey, does anyone know off hand how long it took to initially pave, and build the cute bridges, for the Merrit Parkway? (Outside of design & planning)?


    • Nancy Hunter Wilson

      ….the original bridges? I’m guessing a month tops… makes the Egyptian pyramid builders envious!

    • Nancy Hunter Wilson

      …then again, Rome wasn’t built in a day either…

  8. Peter Maloney

    Doesn’t this make anyone else just a little anxious to drive under this bridge at 55 MPH?

  9. Cynthia Williams

    I do not do linkedin and I do not have a network.

  10. Charles Walke

    Westport: we must be vigilant to preserve our town and all that makes it a desirable place to live. If we don’t fight, and prevent Green Farms Road from becoming a detour for huge trucks to by-pass the nightmare congestion on i-95, and over-whelm Saugatuck, who will? DOT is only interested in what is right for DOT and the transportation system of the State. What Dot is proposing is an outrage. see you tomorrow night.

  11. Alan Phillips

    Another “shovel ready” project!

  12. Edward Paul

    Is this the same DOT that will redo the train station parking lot?

  13. Wilhelmina de Haas

    Does anyone know why the Saugatuck Bridge was closed this morning? From the nightmare experience I had morning to divert to get to the Post Road – this is going to be HELLISH!

    • Yes Wilhelmina ,it was a scheduled opening for boat traffic. this is going to be more regular unless the DOT and town adjust the bridge height for boats to pass under without openings . If the old bridge stays in its current configuration the slim chance of trucks passing thru will be an after thought.

      • Or the DOT can leave the height of the bridge as it is. Increasing the size of the bridge and its height over the water is not in the best interests of the citizens of Westport. As to your choice of the word “slim”, there is empirical evidence you are wrong. When the Mianus River bridge went down, local Greenwich streets were inundated with traffic getting off of 95.

        • Wilhelmina de Hass

          It’s a rather odd and strange coincidence that this opening of the bridge was scheduled 1) during the height of morning rush hour traffic and 2) the same day as the town hall meeting to discuss the proposed plan for the bridge at seven pm tonight. I smell a fish (no pun intended).

          • Jerry MacDaid

            If so, it was a useful reminder fish. The whole point about those being a functioning swing bridge is that it is supposed to open to accomdate river traffic. You know, part to the historic heritage of Westport. Wasn’t it charming?

            • Wilhelmina de Haas

              No it wasn’t charming at all. I had to travel over that bridge to get to work in Norwalk and was instead diverted to Imperial Avenue and then travelled through downtown. I was a half hour late. It was very bad timing and people were confused and irate. I saw many very close calls as far as accidents ready to happen with people honking horns, turning around driveways and then speeding up back Imperial to find another route. I think it’s a very good idea right now to NOT push people’s buttons because we are living in very stressful times right now and there’s a lot of people ready to snap. If some kind of statement was meant to be made today, say it with kind words not actions of this sort. Like I said, this was planned to make some kind of statement in response to tonight’s proposed plans. There’s going to be a lot of angry people at that meeting tonight.

              • Jerry MacDaid

                As someone commented to me on a previous post regarding the bottleneck that is the Cribari Bridge, “do you want some cheese with that whine?”

                I have no clue if this mornings opening was intentional or not. I was caught up in the same traffic this morning on Imperial (I wondered why it was there) though I was cutting through the back roads south of the Post Road (you know, the ones with all the speed humps) trying to avoid the normal morning bridge back-up since I was just heading downtown rather than across the river.

                However, I have previously experienced the joy of being caught on the wrong side of bridge openings both there and in Norwalk. Frankly, it is archaic to have to deal with these sorts of things but it is the price of retaining the “charm” given that folks upriver have longstanding rights to use the waterway (like dating back to before there even was a bridge). You would think there could be some restrictions on timing to minimize disruption but most of the times I have been caught have been “off peak” with the delays similarly annoying and schedule breaking (though impacting fewer people).

                Having said that, if Robbie (or someone else – I’m guessing the CT-DOT) did this to prove a point, it certainly highlighted the downside of leaving the bridge and the rules “as-is” with ALL of its “traffic quieting” benefits. Straight out of the Saul Alinsky playbook. Westport should be proud.

                • Werner Liepolt

                  The policy on opening the bridge which I know from being a boater is that they won’t open either the rr bridge or the Cribari bridge during morning or evening rush hour. I can’t speak to its being opened as a statement on anything from anyone but I think (postChristie gate) any politician would stay very far away from vindictive acts.

              • You are correct Wilhemina, its not charming at all. please write the 1st selectman and conndot to express your dislike of the bridges current height and in an attempt to minimizing openings DOT raise this bridge to match the RR bridge height as needed ,weather renovating or replacing.

        • Jerry MacDaid

          If the CT-DOT is going to spend money to “repair” the bridge leaving the superstructure “as-is”, why not raise it to accommodate boat owners? Similarly, if they do something else over the objections of Westport, why not raise the bridge while they are at it? Or, I suppose, boaters can continue to Mau Mau to good citizen commuters of Westport by regularly acting on their rights to have the bridge opened.

          • Jerry MacDaid

            Heck, I may even buy a boat to join in the fun. Maybe Estelle Margolis will join me with anti-war signs on the boat as we cruise up and down the river and past Longshore and Compo Beach. It will be like the Post Road Bridge demonstrations but only more efficient making multiple points at the same time while celebrating Westport’s maritime heritage. Not to mention, more fun! Woo-hoo!

    • Kate Andrews

      I was rowing on our beautiful river when the Cribari Bridge opened this morning. A boat that was too tall to go under the bridge at that time was waiting for the bridge to open. Watching the bridge turn is a spectacular sight. That being said, I could also hear a lot of car horns honking in frustration. Since it was a pleasure boat, I wondered why it chose high tide (8:26am) to depart out to the bay and sound. This boat could have made passage an hour or so earlier or later and not require the bridge to open and inconvenience so many.

      • Jerry MacDaid

        Maybe it chose high tide since the river hasn’t been dredged and can only easily get out then? Would have needed to wait a couple of days rather than hours if that was the case.

      • Wilhelmina de Haas

        It was planned Kate, to make a statement. What I’m saying is, if you have a political agenda to push, this was the wrong time and way to push it. Us commuters had no idea what was going on. People this morning were very agitated. What if this has caused an accident and people were hurt because someone was frustrated and in a rush. Whomever planned this (and it’s quite obvious that it was) do not do something that affects innocent people who are just trying to get to work or elsewhere on a scheduled time. That’s not the way to make a point.

      • Kate , if they told you that you could not pass on your skull or come 2 hours earlier or 2 hours later . How would you react?

  14. Oh boy. As someone who lives near and constantly uses that bridge, this will be a real pain. Also- three things I noticed in the DOT press release:

    1: “The temporary support system was removed and a different system with greater clearance will be utilized.” Is this the support system that is currently up, because it looks exactly the same as it did last year. If it isn’t the new one, why isn’t it up yet? Also, how much “higher” will this new support system be? If it’s too much higher they can’t reach under the bridge.

    2: As published on the DOT website’s full press release:
    “Lane closure info for Route 15
    Monday through Thursday between 9:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.
    Friday between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.
    Saturday between 7:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.
    Sunday between 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m.”

    Wait- so if they’re only closing a lane on the Merritt during the nighttime, why are they fully closing the bridge even during daylight hours? It seems like they will only do work during the night (or at least the meaningful work), so daytime closures don’t really seem necessary.

    3: They didn’t say anything about uncovering the detour, construction ahead and road closed ahead signs. Hmmm.

    Oh well. Bye bye North Avenue bridge. See you closed again in Summer 2017!

  15. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    Man, you guys complain a lot. A lot of conspiracy theories, too.
    Don’t sweat it. Instead, vote next time for Governor/President Infrastructure (whoever that is) knowing your tax dollars are in good hands.
    Good luck. It may be decades before improvements are realized… (still thinking of the bridge collapse in Minnesota, which doesn’t compare to this situation, does it?)