Bridge renovation gets two easements

As expected, the Board of Selectmen granted two easements to assist with a planned state renovation at the Old Greenwich train station.

The state is poised to soon begin a major project for the heavily used railroad station that includes replacement of the train track bridge that crosses over both Sound Beach and Tomac avenues as well as renovation of the station itself. Because this is state property the Department of Transportation is handling the project, not the town, but it is necessary for the town to grant easements of town property to the state and the utility companies in order for the work to proceed.

At its July 25 meeting, the Board of Selectmen unanimously approved those permanent easements. The first is a three-foot wide by 514-foot long area that is needed in order to build a retaining wall, and the second is a 15-foot wide area between the post office on Arcadia Road and  King’s Market to be able to bury power lines underground; having them above ground would interfere with the construction. The retaining wall, which will go along the state and town property line, will allow for an area for the contractor to work.

The project will now be sent to the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission for consideration.

The selectmen first heard a presentation on this subject at their July 11 meeting from town Senior Civil Engineer Frank Petise. A vote was held off for two weeks, as has been board tradition, to allow for public comment first. No additional feedback is reported to have come in, though, and Mr. Petise said that there has been communication between the state and the impacted neighborhoods about the impacts of this extensive construction project.

“This project has been in the queue for probably about three years now,” Mr. Petise told the selectmen. “We’ve had multiple meetings with the public as well as the neighborhood and the Old Greenwich business group. It’s been well received so far.”

The bridge is in need of replacement due to its age. According to the town, the bridge was originally constructed in 1894 and reconstructed in 1929. As part of the project, the existing superstructures under each track will be removed and new ones will be built. The bridge seats will then be rebuilt to accept new bearings to support the new structure. This will result in some changes underneath the bridge that Old Greenwich merchants are already celebrating, as the double span beneath the bridge will be made into a single span, opening up the roadway by removing the center pier and creating wider sidewalks.

Merchants at the beginning of Sound Beach Avenue have been calling for this for some time and it is expected this will help increase traffic flow in the area. The project is expected to allow for platform extensions at the station, permitting access to 10 train cars in both directions. And there are to be more direct benefits to Greenwich from this project as well. The town is expected to gain 89 new parking spaces at the station, which would not only impact commuters but provide the town with additional revenue.

Mr. Petise also reported that the state would repave the entire parking lot, put in new lighting, provide new bike racks and build a sidewalk under the Tomac Avenue bridge. Mr. Petise has estimated a $2-million benefit to the town from all the improvements.

The overall project is expected to take years to complete and the granting of the easements is just one part of the first step. Mr. Petise said that this part of the project, where the wall is constructed, is scheduled to go out to bid in the fall or winter this year with construction beginning in the spring of 2014. It’s estimated that it will take six months to complete but Mr. Petise said that the whole project, including the work on the bridge, is not slated to be finished until the summer of 2017.


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