Plans to replace the aging, well-travelled I-95 bridge at Exit 55 and widen Route 1 will result in the same number of lanes for now, but will allow space for additional lanes if needed in the future.
Veronica Calin, DOT transportation engineer, said a recent bridge inspection resulted in a rating of 4, which indicates poor condition. The scale runs from 1, which is imminent failure; to 9, which is excellent.
State DOT personnel presented information about the $13.8 million project last week to a small audience at Branford Fire Headquarters. The project is in the preliminary design phase, and DOT officials are looking for comments. Residents wishing to express their concerns or ask questions may contact Calin at email@example.com; or by phone 860-594-3226.
The I-95 bridge, which was built in 1958 and renovated in 1990, spans Route 1 near the commuter parking lot next to Zane’s Cycle’s at 330 E. Main St. Construction could begin in the spring of 2019 if federal and state funds are available, and conclude in the fall of 2020.
Tracey Brais, project engineer for CME Associates, said about 85,200 vehicles per day travel I-95 at Exit 55; and 18,900 vehicle use that section of Route 1 daily. She said the traffic counts do not call for adding extra lanes on either road at this time, but the construction project will allow space for more lanes in the future.
Brais said the underside deck of the I-95 bridge deck has patches, loose concrete and water-staining.
The proposed project includes replacing the bridge with two prefabricated bridge unit spans which will be supported by a new reinforced concrete pier and the existing abutments. The embankments near the abutments will be cut back and new retaining walls will be installed. Officials said pier footings will be constructed beyond the limits of the new center pier to accommodate any future widening of I-95.
Brais said in addition to replacing the I-95 bridge, “We are also looking at extensive improvements of Route 1.” The road will be widened and lowered, and sidewalks will be added. Since the new road will be about 2 .5 feet lower, she said catch basins and drainage work will be done “so that it properly drains.” The lowering of Route 1 will provide more vertical under clearance.
Brais said the work will be done in stages and there will be a few closures. “These temporary closures are proposed for off-peak night hours,” she said.
For the most part, two lanes of traffic will be maintained in each direction of I-95. For example, the two northbound lanes and the two southbound lanes will share the south half of the bridge when the north half of the bridge is replaced. Detours will be posted whenever the entrance and exit ramps at Exit 55 are closed
The project will also affect Route 1 traffic. The DOT said there will be lane shifts on Route 1 and temporary lane closures during some construction phases; and full closures of about 30 minutes when the prefabricated bridge spans are being placed.
There will also be significant work on utilities in the area. For example, sewers, water lines and gas lines will be relocated to lower positions. Officials said there will be some right-of-way impacts on two private properties.