An ongoing $6 million state project to replace two Interstate-84 bridges, which cross above Center Street in the Riverside section of Sandy Hook, is about half complete, according to a state Department of Transportation (DOT) spokesman.
Matthew Cleary, a transportation supervising engineer, said April 15 that construction work at the bridges resumed in early April following a cold, lengthy winter.
“We just started back up for the [construction] season,” he said.
Construction records indicate that about one-half of the construction work has been completed, he said.
Mr Cleary said that DOT plans to have the bridge project substantially complete by late November, with certain details such as landscape plantings, to be done in the spring of 2015.
Work on the project started in the spring of 2013 and continued until late December before halting for the winter.
Mr Cleary said the DOT plans to again shift the travel lanes on I-84 at the bridge site in mid-May when Stage 2 of the construction project starts.
“We’ve had our share of challenges” during the first stage of construction, he said, adding that DOT is looking forward to having a “smooth” construction process during the second stage of the work.
Those challenges included work crews having to deal with the unexpected underground presence of some large concrete masses at the site, he said.
During the project, through-traffic on Center Street is stopped, as needed, to allow construction to proceed. Motorists in the area follow a circuitous detour when through-traffic is banned.
In January, it was learned that evergreen tree plantings intended to improve aesthetics will be included as part of the bridge project.
DOT will be planting 250 various-size evergreen trees and shrubs along I-84 embankment slopes near the bridges. The plantings are planned for an about 600-foot-long section of the highway alongside the road shoulders of eastbound and westbound I-84. Some plantings will be made on the highway median.
Last October, state and local officials met with Riverside residents to learn their concerns about the bridge project and the overall presence of I-84 in their area.
Such concerns include elevated highway noise levels and the hazards posed by objects that fall from vehicles on I-84 and then land in the Riverside neighborhood.
Riverside residents have long sought to have highway sound-barrier walls erected along the section of I-84 that passes through their neighborhood, but DOT officials have responded that there is no money available for such sound-barrier walls.
In August 2012, the DOT awarded Manafort Brothers, Inc, a contract to reconstruct the two I-84 bridges.
The two I-84 bridges have deteriorated sooner than anticipated, and thus need to be replaced.
The bridges’ prestressed concrete beams were in poor condition due to cracking. The new bridges will be supported by conventional steel I-beams.
The bridges were built in 1977 and 1978. Bridges typically are designed to last for 75 years of traffic service.