Bridge repairs go ahead without state

WILTON — Wilton residents will be able to see the results of $68,000 raised during Town Meeting for the Old County Farm Road bridge replacement within the next few months, according to Road Agent Steve Elliot.

The town currently has four bridges that are red-listed by the state, meaning they have stricter weight restrictions and require more frequent state inspection. One of those bridges is the one leading to Old County Farm Road from Route 101. The bridge is currently a major concern for the town, Elliott said in an interview Wednesday, because it’s down to a 6 ton weight limit.

While it can still provide service to emergency vehicles, every time a large truck goes over the bridge the town is taking a chance, Elliott said. The wood for the screw jacks, which hold up and suspend the bridge, has rotted and deteriorated, he said.

Originally during Town Meeting, the town was requesting to add $50,000 to the capital reserve to address the town’s red-listed bridges at some point in the future, most likely with state aide. However, while looking into repairs or replacement for the Old County Farm Road bridge, Elliott discovered that replacing the current bridge with a precast bridge would actually cost the town less than matching 20 percent the town would have to pay if the state were involved.

According to Elliott, he decided to move up the schedule for replacement while the opportunity to save the towns some money was available. The Old County Farm Road bridge is also the least expensive of the town’s red-listed bridges to repair, he added.

“It’s because of the price,” he said. “This is the cheapest one, and in our opinion is the most dangerous one.”

Two of the other red-listed bridges in town, on King’s Brook Road and Stage Coach Road, both have additional access points for emergency vehicles. The other bridge, on Frye Mill Road, is in a similar situation as the Old County Farm Road bridge. However, there are five homes affected by the Old County Farm Road bridge and just one home affected by the Frye Mill Road bridge, making the Old County Farm Road bridge the priority, he said.

MA Bean Associates in Sanborn have been contracted to build the precast bridge to replace the Old County Farm Road bridge, and will begin construction on it off-site this month, Elliott said. In May or June, they will begin to install it.

Construction should take about two weeks total, and leave the road impassible for about three days, said Elliot. Homeowners affected by the installment will be given the option of either leaving vehicles on the opposite side of the bridge in order to exit to Route 101 or using a Class VI road leading in the opposite direction.

The new bridge will be placed on new abutments, which are to be installed behind the existing stone abutments currently in place.

The town is currently on a list to receive state aid for repairs or replacement of the King’s Brook Road bridge and the Stage Coach Road bridge, but the time frame for those repairs has been pushed back until at least 2014, said Elliot. In the meantime, the town is looking at other options for executing temporary repairs or permanent replacements of other red-listed bridges, where it makes sense economically to do so.

“We’re looking for alternatives, and this is one of the alternatives we found,” he said. “In the case of Old County Farm, the cost of replacing it ourselves was cheaper than paying 20 percent of the state cost. The $68,000 was very similar to what we would have been paying to the state, but we would have had to wait several years. This way, it’s done now, plus we are saving ourselves a few thousand dollars.”

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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