Sewer repair and bridge project on Shore Road to cause closures

A major bridge and sewer repair slated for Shore Road will cause road closures and detours in the coming months.

The Board of Selectmen gave its unanimous approval for the project at its Aug. 7 meeting, which will involve the replacement of the superstructure for the bridge, which takes Shore Road over Horseneck Brook. This is all being done as part of the ongoing Shore Road sewer rehabilitation project.

The bridge itself is quite old with the town determining the stone masonry arch was constructed in 1905. However, it wasn’t the age of the bridge that caused concerned the town, but rather the condition of nearby sewer lines in the Horseneck Lane and Shore Road areas.

“It’s imperative that we complete this right away,” said Richard Feminella, wastewater division manager for the town’s Department of Public Works (DPW), adding that the town noticed “conditions that caused us great alarm” in the sewer structures and pipelines last winter.

Consulting engineers, an erosion specialist and a contractor were then brought in, leading to the conclusion that the pieces of sewer infrastructure needed to be rehabilitated “right away” because they were constructed only by unprotected reinforced concrete and already had “significant deterioration.”

Due to the accelerated nature of the project, Mr. Feminella said a multi-faceted approach was done for the design so it could be done in conjunction with the bridge project so that components can be used in both projects.

Without action, Mr. Feminella said there could be failure in the lines, causing “serious environmental impacts and significant impacts to residents and commuters.” In order to do this work, there will need to be a bypass put in place for  the sewer lines to the nearby Grass Island Wastewater Treatment Plant. Mr. Feminella said this will require three separate pumping bypass locations between Horseneck Lane and Shore Road as well as backup pumps. There will also be personnel on hand 24-hours during the construction to make sure everything is operating well.

“We will try to minimize the impact and minimize the duration and improve the way that we can do this while decreasing the cost,” Mr. Feminella said, adding that the plan is to do weekend and nighttime work to minimize the inconvenience for drivers in the area. “We realize it is a major corridor for traffic and commuters. We’re trying to be very sensitive for that. There will be some minor inconveniences but we’re trying to work with all the town agencies to address that.”

DPW will have to go before the Representative Town Meeting in September for approval and, if given, it would then take approximately a month to set up the bypass. Because of that Mr. Feminella said a temporary road closure would be put in place for traffic going onto the bridge at Shore Road for three days near the end of September so the main sanitary sewer conduit that spans Horseneck Brook could be removed and then reinstalled. The exact days of the closure are not yet known due to possible delays but Mr. Feminella said there would be a two-week warning given to the town through press releases once the dates are determined.

The RTM granted emergency funding for the sewer project at a special meeting on Monday.

Mr. Feminella said that the town has met with the Greenwich Fire Department, which has its temporary station in the Horseneck Parking Lot as well as the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich, which is across the street, to determine what events are being held in September and October to build that knowledge into the work that will be done.

“If everything goes well we’re going to be in the area for a month or 35 days but that’s without any major rain events,” Mr. Feminella said. “Then we have eight weeks for the sewer construction, which is another two months and would put us into Thanksgiving time. That’s when we anticipate being completed and when we can start breaking down all the temporary bypass pumping and piping.”

Mr. Feminella acknowledged that it was a “lot of work to get completed in a relatively short span of time” but, working with the contractor and vendors he was “relatively comfortable” that, barring major storms, this can be done in the time allowed. Once installed, Mr. Feminella predicted that there would be more than 50 years of service life in the new sewer piping with as much as 75 years possible.

But that would be only the first closing as bridge work would then be done, necessitating the road again be closed for approximately three weeks in November to complete the roadway work over the bridge. As part of the bridge rehabilitation, the existing roadway will have to be removed over the arch so it can be repaired. A new roadway will then be built over the bridge. Additionally the town will remove the sidewalks and instead have a pedestrian bridge adjacent to the Shore Road bridge.

This will cause detours covering one mile of Shore Road, Horseneck Lane, Field Point Road and Intervale Place. The town said the intersection of Grass Island Road and Shore Road will also have to be temporarily modified to accommodate the large vehicles entering the road from the south as well as leaving Grass Island and heading south. In both cases notice will be given by the town two weeks prior to the detours.

First Selectman Peter Tesei said he understood that something like this will inconvenience drivers and said he sympathized. Selectman Drew Marzullo added, “We recognize that traffic is going to be a nightmare but it’s a necessary nightmare and there’s no alternative for this. We don’t like it. We have to sit in the same traffic.”

Mr. Tesei said the consequence of ignoring the problem would be far worse than the inconvenience repairs will cause.

“The consequences of not doing this and having a failure in our infrastructure is quite grave, both from an environmental point of view and a liability point of view,” Mr. Tesei said.

The bridge is on the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s Historic Bridge Inventory, meaning the renovation will have to be done to preserve its historical design, and Selectman David Theis marveled that it was still standing after close to 110 years.

“I think it’s remarkable that it’s really functional,” Mr. Theis said. “Whenever I drive around I look at the construction around the railroad tracks and all the stone there and wonder who built it and how they did it. It’s remarkable the ability of man to construct things like this that last so long.”

The bridge project is being partially funded through federal and state local bridge funds so 80% of the cost will be covered.

The selectmen also approved another superstructure replacement for the bridge on Burying Hill Road over Wilshire Pond Brook, which has shown deterioration between a fall 2012 inspection that found the need for repairs and that work actually beginning this previous spring. Because of that the bridge, which was built in 1921, will now have to be replaced and work is scheduled to begin on approximately Sept. 15 to be completed in December. The road will have to be closed to traffic during this work and a three-mile detour over Highland Farm Road, Cherry Valley Road and Old Mill Road will take people from Round Hill Road to Lake Avenue.

As in the other project, there will be a notice issued to the public two weeks before the road closure and detour are put into place.

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