PLYMOUTH - After almost a year of detours, the North Main Street Bridge has reopened.
Mayor David Merchant held a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday morning, with Charles Wiegert, Public Works director; members of WMC Consulting Engineers, which designed the bridge; and Hemlock Construction Co., which built it.
The bridge is located at the intersection with Poland Brook Road (Route 72) and crosses the Poland Brook. It was closed for almost a year while it was completely rebuilt.
“This is like a main artery to get from Route 72 to Route 6,” Merchant said. “It has been a major inconvenience for everybody in town for the last year.”
Nearby Smith Street had virtually no traffic until the closure, when big trucks would come from Route 6 and detour through the quiet residential street when the drivers realized they couldn’t go over the bridge, he said.
The bridge closure was also an obstacle for buses and parents delivering or picking up students at nearby Fisher Elementary and Eli Terry Jr. Middle schools, he added. “People are ecstatic now that it’s open again. It looks beautiful. They did a great job.”
The project was part of the $9.7 million bond package that was approved in 2012. Merchant said the new bridge cost about $1.6 million altogether, with $600,000 funded by the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s Local Bridge Program.
The old bridge was from the 1930s, and the concrete and metal reinforcement was all coming apart. Also, the the river had eroded the bottom of the bridge, Wiegert said.
“This should last 75 to 100 years, with a little bit of maintenance,” said Steve McDonnell, from WMC. It’s a very typical “clear span” bridge, he added. “There’s no bottom underneath the brook so it flows better. Fisheries like to have a bridge with a natural stream bottom.”
Wiegert said people used to fish from the old bridge “and I’m sure they will again.”
Richard and Barbara Traub, from Hemlock, said the wooden dock that is currently in the brook under the bridge was put there by their company as part of the construction process and will be removed.
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.