NS selectmen put bridges on fast track

North Stonington - Tonight's Board of Finance meeting will cap a busy week for members of the Board of Selectmen as they try to push ahead with plans for two village bridges.

"We're keeping pretty active on this thing for the next week," First Selectman Nicholas H. Mullane II said Tuesday. "We want to keep (the plans) moving, we don't want it to stall."

The schedule began with a public hearing Monday night, a regularly scheduled board meeting on Tuesday and a planned appearance at tonight's finance meeting in Town Hall.

About 70 people turned out for Monday night's hearing, Mullane said, with residents and Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives on hand for questions about plans for the Old Town Hall Bridge and the West Village Green Bridge. The Town Hall Bridge has been closed and metal plates have covered the damage to the Village Green Bridge since the March 30, 2010, flood.

The cost of the Town Hall bridge could be $1.1 to $1.2 million, Mullane said, with FEMA covering 75 percent. The cost depends on whether the town adopts plans for a single- or double-arch bridge. A straw poll at the meeting showed a small margin favoring the double-arch design.

Most seemed in favor of going ahead with repairing, rather than replacing, the Village Green Bridge, Mullane said. The repair cost is estimated at $200,000.

After the selectmen "digested" the feedback during Tuesday's meeting, Mullane said he would go before the finance board tonight to discuss a request for $177,000. The money would be used to pay the second phase engineering costs of the bridge project.

Mullane said that FEMA would pay the town back $133,000 of the $177,000. Any additional money would most likely come from the town's general fund, Mullane said.

If all goes according to schedule, Mullane said the Town Hall Bridge could be completed by November. Repairs would then begin on the Village Green Bridge, which could be done by July 2012.

s.goldstein@theday.com

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