The Dept of Public Works is holding a Zoom public hearing on Thursday, Dec 3 at 1:00pm on the replacement of the bridge over Cider Mill Brook between Binney Park and the Perrot Library.
Many people are unaware they are traversing a bridge as they drive along Sound Beach Avenue, because the bridge is not arched.
The existing bridge was built in 1925 and was rehabilitated in 1977 while adding an additional culvert to the south to relieve flooding.
The structure consists of 2 spans, a concrete deck span and concrete box culvert span, which create a center pier.
The bridge has a deteriorated stone masonry fascia and has rated poorly during the last series of inspections.
The DPW says the bridge is recommended for immediate replacement.
The reason the bridge project originally became controversial was because when it was first proposed by in 2018 by DPW commissioner Jim Michel, he said the upgrade triggered a rotary upgrade that would include a 100-ft traffic circle by Laddins Rock Rd and Harding Rd (by the Perrot Library.
“If we were to raise the bridge, the majority of the roundabout would need to be raised. You might as well put the whole thing in compliance with FEMA regulations,” Mr. Michel said at the time.
The neighbors objections were swift and numerous.
After the public outcry at multiple P&Z hearings, the commission ultimately denied MI approval to the project, and residents went to work researching scenic road designations.
The idea was for residents to have more of a say for similar projects in the future. After months of research, petitions and waiting for hours to testify at hearings, the residents, led by Rita Baker and Candace Garthwaite, were pleased when the P&Z commission approved the Scenic Loop in September 2020.
Fast forward to Nov 17th P&Z meeting, where DPW presented a different proposal for the bridge that does not include changes to the rotary.
At that meeting, it was made clear that the bridge must be raised, must be single span and must meet DOT standards. No one wanted to reuse the old stone, but the design would feature similar rounded stones.
It was agreed that a precast concrete structure “box bridge” would be more desirable than an arched bridge, though some residents suggested that would match the look of other bridges in Binney Park.
However, an arched bridge would have required DPW to go back to the drawing board, another $400,000 in design, possibly two more years of process. But also, an arched bridge would be abnormally large.
And so on Nov 17, DPW’s coastal site plan application was approved.
The other part of the proposal was a recommendation to the Commissioner of Public Works, Amy Siebert, which falls under the town charter under the scenic road designation.
On Nov 18, Katie DeLuca said in her debrief on WGCH, that after much back and forth between the public and the P&Z commission DPW landed with a project that was “very favorable to everybody.”
“In the end,” DeLuca continued. “There weren’t many comments other than to just work with staff on the final landscaping plan and to look at a decorative top rail, that will be discussed with staff, and if need be, go back to the commission as a discussion item.”
DeLuca also said all parties were pleased that the bank abutments will be reduced as much as possible.
“It was good in the end to move that forward,” DeLuca said.
The temporary traffic and pedestrian detour will be the most noticeable impact of this project.
Both detours will be posted with signage and last approximately 3 months, beginning this winter.
For vehicles, it will utilize Harding Road and Forest Avenues. Local driveway access will be maintained throughout construction. For pedestrians, it will utilize the existing crosswalks in the vicinity and the existing sidewalks through Binney Park.
Existing utilities, such as sewer, drain, water and gas will be temporarily relocated prior to the removal of the existing structure.