The state Department of Transportation (DOT) has scheduled a public informational meeting for Tuesday, February 11, on its plans to replace an antiquated bridge and to alleviate a traffic bottleneck on the section of Sugar Street (Route 302) just west of its signalized intersection with Main Street, South Main Street, and Glover Avenue.
The meeting is scheduled for 7 pm at Newtown Municipal Center, 3 Primrose Street. The inclement weather date for the session is Wednesday, February 26.
First Selectman Pat Llodra said this week that as part of the construction project, the state should provide sidewalks along Sugar Street in that area.
Mrs Llodra also called for the state to have certain electrical utility lines, which currently are suspended from poles in that area, relocated underground as a way to safeguard the continuity of electrical service in the center of town.
In the Sugar Street improvement project, a 14-foot-long Sugar Street bridge, which carries that road over an unnamed stream near Elm Drive, will be widened from its current width of 28 feet to 43 feet. The bridge, which was built in 1929, carries approximately 8,800 vehicles daily.
That bridge, which becomes a traffic bottleneck during the morning and evening rush periods, currently has one eastbound lane and one westbound lane. The bridge replacement project will result in two eastbound lanes and one westbound lane on the bridge. One of those two eastbound lanes on the bridge will be a “left-turn-only” lane, thus alleviating the traffic bottleneck there.
The project will involve improving an about 450-foot-long section of Sugar Street, with road improvements being made both east and west of the bridge.
DOT civil engineer Louis Bacho, who is the project manager, has said the project is scheduled to start construction in the spring of 2016 and will take about seven months to complete. The new bridge will be constructed in three stages. Two lanes of traffic flow will be maintained in the area during the project.
The project’s construction cost is estimated to be $1.2 million, with its design work expected to cost an additional $150,000 to $200,000. About 30 percent of the design work for the project has been done, according to Mr Bacho.
Besides widening the bridge, the project will provide a larger opening for the unnamed brook to pass beneath Sugar Street.
The existing bridge consists of a single-span concrete slab that sits on stone rubble masonry abutments and wingwalls. The new bridge will employ a prefabricated box culvert.
The improvement project is intended to resolve the existing bridge’s structural deficiencies and its functional obsolescence. The bridge is structurally deficient due to its superstructure’s poor condition and is obsolete due to its relative narrowness, according to DOT.
Long-Term Sidewalk Plan
In a statement on the Sugar Street improvement project, Mrs Llodra said this week that the DOT session will provide the public with an opportunity to influence the project’s design and its execution.
“The town’s sidewalk plan seeks to connect the existing sidewalks along Main Street with a future sidewalk installation along Ram Pasture on Elm Drive and eventually leading to Dickinson Park. This is a long-term initiative which will likely be accomplished through small increments. It is consistent with good planning and makes good economical sense for the sidewalk installation along this stretch of Sugar Street to be done by [DOT] concurrent with their plan for road improvements,” she said.
Mrs Llodra added, “The same good planning applies to consideration of the power poles in that section. There are three power poles located on the Ram Pasture side of Sugar Street right near the [four-way] intersection. These three poles carry two circuits…which together power downtown Newtown.”
“It would be best to bury this small portion of the [electrical] grid to avoid future significant outages caused by [motor vehicle] accidents, or at least protect the poles with a guardrail system more substantial than what is currently in place,” she said.