Residents Take a Gander at Eversource’s New Pedestrian Bridge in Bruce Park

A new pedestrian bridge that Eversource installed over the pond in Bruce Park has two new 115-kilovolt (kV) transmission lines tucked underneath.

The bridge is roughly at the mid point of the 2.3 miles of transmission lines, mostly underground, that connect the Cos Cob substation to the new station on Railroad Ave, at the former location of Pet Pantry.

It was five years ago that Eversource sent representatives to Greenwich town hall to present designs to Architectural Review Committee of a proposed new Railroad Ave “closed” substation.

The same night, downstairs in the meeting room, other Eversource representatives held an “open house” where they explained that the proposed route from Cos Cob to Railroad Ave would come through Bruce Park, but that there were options.

Pedestrian bridge spans the pond in Bruce Park, and houses Eversource transmission lines underneath. Photo: Leslie Yager

The utility’s preferred option was to put the lines under the pond using the Long Distance Horizontal Drilling technique, “HDD,” in which drills are guided by GPS, in this case under the pond.

“I’ve seen a drill a mile under a lake come out the other side. They can go great distances under the ground. Part of this involves a HDD 1,400 ft long,” a senior engineer for Eversource said that night, adding that the process was very expensive.

In Sept 2015 the nine member Connecticut Siting Council came to Greenwich and held an info session at the Cole Auditorium at Greenwich Library with opportunity for questions from the public.

horizontal directional drilling "HDD"
Back in 2015 Eversource hoped to use horizontal directional drilling “HDD” to run transmission lines under the pond in Bruce Park. Credit: Leslie Yager

Approval of the project was in the hands of the Siting Council, and in November 2015, P&Z Chair Katie DeLuca wrote to them saying Greenwich had concerns about the environment and impact on Bruce Park.

She voiced concern that Eversource’s cable technology employed a petroleum-based fluid to insulate the cables, and described that as problematic from an environmental standpoint.

She said the system had the potential to leak. She suggested Googling “Long Island Sound clean-up of failed power cables.”

Nevertheless, the Siting Council ruled in favor of Eversource in 2017.

In the end, Eversource compromised and tucked the lines underneath the pedestrian bridge.

With the Bruce Park detour having ended in recent days, residents have had a chance to take a gander at the pedestrian bridge.

Conducting informal man-in-the-street interviews Tuesday night at dinner time, walkers were split. About two thirds we asked said they liked the look of the bridge. One third said they strongly did not.

“Do you want a covered bridge like in Vermont?” one Mead Point resident was asked by this reporter.

“Yes that would be better,” he replied.

Certainly the new bridge will be safer for pedestrians than the existing sidewalks which are narrower than code requires and are bordered by battered guardrails.

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

The narrow sidewalk along the bridge over the pond in Bruce Park is a challenge for two people to pass, especially with social distancing. June 23, 2020 Photo: Leslie Yager