The Lake Avenue bridge over the Merritt
Parkway has re-opened to traffic after being returned to structural soundness and meticulously restored
to its original Art Deco appearance.
Back in June the CT Dept of Transportation announced the project and received permission from the Town of Greenwich during a Selectmen meeting for an 8-1/2 mile detour expected to last 17 weeks.
Initially one lane was left open and traffic took turns driving one way. The full closure began the last day of school last June.
Since school started this fall, even school buses have had to use the 8+ mile detour.
On Thursday morning, representatives of CT Dept of Transportation, the Town of Greenwich, Mohawk Northeast, Inc. the contractor, and the Merritt Parkway Conservancy held a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the re-opening of the historic bridge Thursday morning
Wes Haynes, Executive Director of the Merritt Parkway Conservancy said the transformation of the bridge was stunning and praised the DOT and Mohawk Northeast for completing the bridge project ahead of schedule.
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The rehabilitation of the bridge entailed removal of the bridge’s ornamental grillework and railings off-site for cleaning and re-painting, and replacement of the structural steel, which was in poor condition after nearly 80 years in service. The structural work necessitated closing the bridge to traffic at the end of the 2018-19 school year. Missing ornamental components were refabricated, and the structural steel and ornamental ironwork was repainted in its original colors based on laboratory investigation sponsored by the non-profit Conservancy.
The Lake Avenue bridge, built in 1940, was one of the parkway’s last bridges. Constructed beginning in 1934, the Merritt Parkway was the first of its kind in the US, offering passenger cars a bucolic 37 mile ride through Fairfield County, uninterrupted by stop signs in a native landscape carefully blended into its surrounding environment.
It runs 37 miles from Greenwich to Stratford. Each of the 72 original bridges designed by George L. Dunkelberger is unique in design, representing a range of 1930s architectural styles.
The entire parkway was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991, and in 2010 was named one of America’s Most Endangered Historic Places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.