Published March 18. 2010 4:00AM Updated March 18. 2010 1:08PM
East Lyme - Construction crews have already started the three-year project to replace the Niantic River Bridge, but onlookers won't see the substantial work begin for a few more weeks.
Workers have been at Cini Park near the entrance of the boardwalk since last week, staging heavy machinery and creating a ramp that will allow them to better move equipment up to the railroad tracks. Amtrak officials said the significant work will start in April when construction barges are brought out.
Amtrak is providing diagrams of where the barges will be stationed and how they will be moved during the different phases of work. The diagrams are available on the town's Web site at www.eltownhall.com.
Representatives from Amtrak met with town department heads in early March to discuss the logistics of the project. Those in attendance said it was a productive meeting with Amtrak representatives and the construction companies doing the work, Cianbro/Middlesex VII.
Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole said the railroad company is holding its promise to remain in communication with the community and town officials.
"We expect within several weeks to have more outreach to the community. We will continue to communicate all the milestones and important parts of the project," Cole said.
Town officials have already closed the eastern portion of the Niantic Bay Overlook, from the wooden boardwalk section to the bridge area. Those who want to use the boardwalk must enter at the Hole in the Wall entrance.
The $104.7 million, three-year contract is to construct a two-track bridge south of the present alignment. It will involve expanding the navigation channel beneath the bridge, realigning the east and west track approaches, relocating the boardwalk and restoring the beach.