John Street Bridge to be replaced, new speed limit issued

A bridge replacement in town is continuing and it will necessitate major construction starting next week.

According to the town’s Department of Public Works, the John Street Bridge over the Byram River, which was built in 1921, is not structurally sound enough to be used, and because of that a closure is necessary and a detour will be put in place while the work is being done. Construction is set to begin Monday, May 20, and not be completed until December, but the road closure will not begin until a scheduled date of June 25.

That closure is slated to continue until Sept. 27. Frank Petise, a senior civil engineer for the town, told the Board of Selectmen last week, that this would be done to minimize the impact on emergency vehicles and school bus routes by waiting until the year was out and extending only shortly into the new school year beginning in September.

“Since 2006 this bridge has been rated poor and structurally deficient,” Mr. Petise said, adding that the new bridge will have two lanes of travel and will be raised more than two feet higher than the current structure in order to accommodate the possibility of severe flooding, necessitating approximately 500 feet of John Street having to be reconstructed as part of the project.

Because of this, a 3.9-mile detour will be put in place utilizing Round Hill Road, Old Mill Road, North Porchuck Road, and Riversville Road. Signage will be placed to alert drivers to the detour. The selectmen gave the project unanimous approval.

A. Vitti Excavators from Stamford is handling the project at a cost of $709,216. Mr. Petise said 10% of the cost will be refunded to the town from the state through its local bridge program.

The selectmen also unanimously approved a new posted 25 mph speed limit for Hemlock Drive. This came after a neighbor request for the speed limit, which matches the ones on neighboring streets. Hemlock Drive is an area of town where test drives from nearby car dealerships are done, and with many walkers and young children on the street and no sidewalks, neighbors said they had concerns.

First Selectman Peter Tesei, in granting the speed limit, noted that a lot of the car dealerships on the Post Road near Hemlock sell high-end vehicles capable of going very fast, and he said he understood why people were concerned. He said he had spoken about this with Michael Breed, the resident who first suggested the speed limit, as well as the town’s professional staff and the police.

“There’s agreement that it would be beneficial to have the posted speed limit,” Mr. Tesei said.

Town traffic operations coordinator Melissa Evans called this a “quick and easy request.” She said she had spoken to police about this as well, and without a posted speed limit it is hard to enforce against people driving too fast.

The town now needs to get state approval for the speed limit, which is considered a formality since the selectmen are the local traffic authority. Once that is done, signage for the speed limit will be able to go up.


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