PLYMOUTH - The Connecticut Department of Transportation will continue work on the North Main Street bridge, despite the state postponing many other infrastructure projects.
The bridge over the Poland River, near where North Main meets Poland Brook Road, has been closed for about a year as it is being rebuilt.
The $620,000 in state money for the bridge was on the recently released list of $4.3 billion worth of projects Gov. Dannel Malloy and the DOT said would be postponed indefinitely until new revenue is appropriated for the state’s Special Transportation Fund.
Mayor David Merchant said when the state sent out the list, “I immediately let them know this bridge is three quarters done.”
Merchant said there was a mix up with the paperwork last May. He recently talked with DOT Commissioner James Redeker and representatives from the Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments to straighten it out.
“We have since filled out the paperwork and filed it with the state, so they assured us that we would be fine with that money and the project will continue,” he said.
Merchant said the recent cold weather slowed work on the bridge, but he expects it will be finished by May or earlier. Residents and parents who drop off children at the nearby Fisher Elementary and Eli Terry Jr. Middle schools will likely be happy to see it open again, he added.
Two other local bridges were included on the list of postponed projects. One was on East Orchard Street over an unnamed brook, at a cost of $222,000, and one was on Keegan Road over Todd Hollow Brook, at a cost of $283,000.
They were originally meant to be included in a 2016 bond package, but were taken out when some members of the public disputed the costs and the need for the bridges to be replaced.
“They weren’t even on our radar at this point, so they don’t matter to us,” Merchant said.
The fund finances the state’s transportation system, including the operating costs of the DOT and all of the services it provides. In December, Malloy had repeated past warnings on the solvency of the fund following the release of a report showing that, without prompt action, the fund will be in deficit by fiscal year 2019, which begins this July 1.
Hundreds of projects across the state - including improvements to the I-91/Route 15 interchange on the Charter Oak Bridge in Hartford, the replacement of the Waterbury I-84 “Mixmaster,” and the widening of I-95 from Bridgeport to Stamford - were postponed indefinitely, or until resources are found to allow them to continue.
The projects were scheduled to be done over the five-year period from fiscal years 2018 through 2022.
Routine highway maintenance and transportation aid to cities and towns are also affected by the postponement.
“If Connecticut does not take the necessary action to allow us to restart these vital projects, not only will it put the state’s infrastructure into a further state of disrepair, it will hurt our economy,” Malloy said, on releasing the list.
“This isn’t a problem that can be punted until future years. Connecticut needs immediate action,” Redeker said. “As Gov. Malloy noted last month, the solvency of the Special Transportation Fund is in doubt without new revenues. In real terms, that means we need to postpone indefinitely important projects today.”
Malloy is expected to release his recommendations to ensure the solvency of the fund in advance of the 2018 legislative session, which starts in February.
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.