State Department of Transportation (DOT) workers last week took subsurface core samples at Sugar Street (Route 302), at its intersection with Elm Drive, for geological information on the soil there to be used in the design of a new, wider Sugar Street bridge.
The new span will replace the existing Sugar Street bridge which becomes a traffic bottleneck during commuter rush periods.
As the DOT workers ran a drilling rig to take the core samples, a police officer stood by, directing eastbound traffic on Sugar Street to a detour that sent motorists southward on Elm Drive and then eastward on Hawley Road to reach South Main Street.
DOT engineer Louis Bacho, the bridge project manager, said May 21 the core samples will show what lies beneath the surface for aid in designing the concrete abutments for the planned new bridge.
The bridge replacement project is on schedule for a construction start in the spring of 2016, he said. Some preliminary work may be done in the fall of 2015, he said.
The bridge replacement project is expected to take one construction season to complete, he said.
As part of the project, the DOT would install a sidewalk along the north side of Sugar Street in that area, he said.
The DOT held an informational session on the project in February, seeking public comments on the planned $1.5 million worth of construction work.
Improvements are planned for the section of Sugar Street that extends about 400 feet west of its signalized four-way intersection with Main Street, Glover Avenue, and South Main Street.
The principal component of the project will be the replacement of the 85-year-old Sugar Street bridge, which crosses over an unnamed brook.
The current 14-foot-long bridge would be replaced by a 16-foot-long bridge. The new bridge would be much wider than the current 28-foot-wide bridge. The new bridge is expected to be approximately 45 feet wide, including the sidewalk.
Sugar Street would be widened to provide two lanes of eastbound traffic and one lane of westbound traffic on the new bridge. One eastbound lane would be designated for “left turns only.” The existing bridge has one travel lane in each direction.
The changes are intended to replace the decaying bridge, modernize the roadway, and alleviate a traffic bottleneck that occurs in the area, especially during the morning and evening rush periods.
DOT estimates that in 2012, the section of Sugar Street where the construction is planned carried about 8,800 vehicles daily.
The new bridge will employ a prefabricated box culvert. The project is intended to resolve the existing bridge’s structural deficiencies and its functional obsolescence. The bridge is structurally deficient due to its superstructure’s poor condition and is obsolete due to its relative narrowness, according to DOT.