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The "bridge out" signs on Montville Road at the Norwich-Montville border have frustrated residents and town officials for the past several years, as plans to replace the bridge that washed away in a 2007 storm slowly materialized.
Final plans are now on the table in the Norwich planning office and will be presented during a special permit public hearing on July 15 at the Commission on the City Plan in Norwich. The project, a double box culvert bridge plan, still needs state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection approval, but officials in both municipalities said they hope construction can take place in late summer or fall of this year.
"We've been moving forward with it. We're hopeful for full construction permits," Montville Mayor Ronald McDaniel said. "We're still in the permitting process, but we're hoping to get everything approved to go out to bid. These projects are typically done in late summer and fall, when it's dry."
McDaniel said Montville received a $500,000 Small Town Economic Assistance Program grant to fund the project. Norwich and Montville have been splitting the engineering costs to date, and the two municipalities hope the grant will cover most or all of the cost. The total project cost won't be known until the project is put out to bid, McDaniel said.
The bridge over Trading Cove Brook provides Montville residents on that road and nearby Leffingwell Road and several side streets with easy access to Route 82 in Norwich, location of major shopping centers and the Interstate 395 Exit 80 interchange. The road also gives Norwich residents an easy access to Montville, McDaniel said.
But what appears to be a small local bridge over Trading Cove Brook has proven complicated. According to the permit application, the 2007 storm and another storm in 2009 washed significant erosion into the brook, undermining the closed pipe that used to direct the stream beneath the bridge. The water diverted to an open channel adjacent to the pipe.
The wetlands area on both sides of the brook also is extensive, encompassing 8.3 miles, as the brook eventually reaches the Thames River.
The new bridge is designed to reduce sediment build-up and reduce erosion risks during storms.
Last summer, engineers for CLA Engineers told the Montville Inland Wetlands Commission that state environmental officials identified a protected freshwater mussel living in the brook, so the bridge replacement work had to be designed to minimize impacts on the species downstream.
"We've been working with Montville and the (state Department of Transportation) for it seems like forever on this," Norwich City Manager Alan Bergren said. "For a small bridge, it sure has been an administrative headache."