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Pedestrian Bridge In Sandy Hook Unsafe, May Face Removal



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The Legislative Council approved a $15,000 transfer for the removal and inspection of a footbridge in Sandy Hook Center.

The bridge connects from the parking lot of 4 Washington Avenue to the lot of 100 Church Hill Road. When it was in use, it carried foot traffic over the Pootatuck River between those locations.

The bridge has been closed for months, however, after repair work led to the discovery of unsafe conditions. When several floorboards were pulled up for replacement, the underlying metal infrastructure was found to be corroding, according to First Selectman Dan Rosenthal. The bridge has been closed, with fencing placed to prevent access, since that time.

The bridge has been located there since the 90s, Rosenthal said, and was installed to connect the two areas across the river prior to the installation of sidewalks. The all steel bridge was bought used through a joint effort from the town and Sandy Hook Organization for Prosperity (SHOP). It is roughly 40 feet long, spanning the Pootatuck. Prior to the installation of sidewalks in Sandy Hook Center, the area to navigate along Washington Avenue and Church Hill Road, around the river, was reportedly unsafe for pedestrians to walk.

It may no longer be a necessity to travel between the businesses on foot, but “people like the bridge,” said Rosenthal.

“It’s a convenience but there’s limits to that,” said Rosenthal. “We’re not isolating people by making them go to the sidewalk.”

The corrosion may point to larger problems and the “bridge might be a goner,” however, according to the first selectman. If so, the bridge would be disposed of as part of the $15,000 appropriation, and the abutments would remain fenced off to keep people away from them.

The bridge will need to be pulled out with a crane and will be relocated to the Parks & Recreation maintenance garage. There, an engineer will inspect the bridge and provide an estimate on how much it would cost to repair the structure. An engineer would have to sign off on the work before the bridge could be reinstalled and reopened for use.

Replacing the bridge would be expensive, said Rosenthal, and would require the town to redo the abutments to fit the new bridge, as well as make the bridge Americans with Disabilities Act compliant. Rosenthal didn’t feel the cost warranted installation of a new bridge if the current one is irreparable or too expensive to repair.

If, upon inspection, the current bridge can be repaired for a “reasonable amount of money,” Rosenthal said he will be back with a request for an appropriation for additional funds. If not, the current $15,000 appropriation would be used to install permanent fencing at the abutments.

“It’s debatable what a reasonable number is,” said Rosenthal. “It would have to be a small number for me to support it.”

Councilman Ryan Knapp said the area is in a “different situation” than it was in the 90s when the bridge was installed.

Councilman William DeRosa said that since the bridge was connecting private property to another private property, he was for removing the bridge regardless of repair cost.

Associate Editor Jim Taylor can be reached at jim@thebee.com.

The footbridge that spans the Pootatuck River in Sandy Hook Center, connecting parking lots on Washington Avenue and Church Hill Road, has been deemed unsafe for use after repair work found corrosion to its infrastructure. —Bee Photo, Taylor
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