North Stonington signs agreement for construction work on Town Hall Bridge

North Stonington - The town on Wednesday signed a contract with a Bristol builder for the construction of the Town Hall Bridge on Main Street.

First Selectman Nicholas H. Mullane II said the town and Mastrobattisto Inc. president Richard Zaleski signed a contract for the work on the bridge, which was washed out during the March 2010 floods.

Mastrobattisto was the low bidder for the project, estimating the work will cost about $1.2 million. The town has borrowed $1.975 million for the project, some of which already has been spent on the planning phase, Mullane said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will reimburse $1.47 million of the cost, about 75 percent.

Mullane said heavy equipment will be hauled in by Feb. 6, with work expected to begin immediately. If all goes as planned, which is a big "if," Mullane admits, the bridge will be complete by September.

"We won't allow traffic until it's to a point that the traffic won't hold up (construction)," Mullane said Thursday.

The gap over the Shunock River has irked residents during the two years since the bridge washed away. It has split Main Street in half, causing an unwanted detour. No temporary bridge was constructed, and plenty of red tape slowed the process considerably, Mullane said.

The bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places, and the engineering and planning had to be thoroughly reviewed to ensure FEMA would approve such a high reimbursement amount, Mullane said in November.

Earlier in the process, the town's historical society had to choose a "one arch or two" design and the town had to hire an archaeologist to study the old bridge's foundation, Mullane said. He said a tropical storm and more bureaucracy on the federal, state and local levels delayed certain steps of the project even further.

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