Next phase of Gold Star Bridge repairs to begin

Traffic slows as it enters the Gold Star Memorial Bridge on Nov. 26, 2017, due to a construction project on the span. The Department of Transportation will be closing the right lines and redirecting vehicles into the newly revamped left lanes this week to prepare for the next phase of the project.  (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Traffic slows as it enters the Gold Star Memorial Bridge on Nov. 26, 2017, due to a construction project on the span. The Department of Transportation will be closing the right lines and redirecting vehicles into the newly revamped left lanes this week to prepare for the next phase of the project. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

By Monday's morning commute, drivers will be traveling on brand-new pavement in three lanes on the left side of the southbound Gold Star Memorial Bridge, rather than traveling on the right side as they are now.

The state Department of Transportation has announced a lane reconfiguration on the southbound span between Groton and New London, so the DOT can work on the right side of the bridge for the next phase of an ongoing project to repair the bridge.

DOT expects the flow of traffic will be smoother in the new configuration, which will be in place by the end of the weekend, Keith Schoppe, a DOT project engineer, said Tuesday in a phone interview.

Courtesy of Connecticut Department of Transportation

"The Bridge Street on-ramp will need to merge into the right lane of I-95 southbound traffic," DOT said Monday in a news release announcing the reconfiguration. "The State Route 184 (Gold Star Highway) on-ramp will begin as a dedicated lane and will not need to merge into I-95 southbound traffic."

The left two lanes will be for thru-traffic, while the right lane will serve as an exit-only lane for Route 32, the release states.

Schoppe said workers will begin moving barriers and line striping starting on Thursday night and into the weekend, and there will be temporary lane closures at times as they set up the new configuration. Drivers should expect delays, particularly on Friday, when the bulk of the line striping will be done, he said.

The activities depend on the weather, he said, which is expected to get colder next week. Snow showers are possible over the weekend. The crews are trying to beat any bad conditions.

He said drivers should follow the signs, and police will be on site. A tow truck will be stationed during the weekend and most of next week, he said. DOT encourages drivers to drive at a safe speed through work zones.

The agency also has launched a website to provide updates on the project, including progress on construction and roadway impacts: www.i95goldstar.com.

Throughout the project, DOT has been working in stages and using concrete barriers along the length of the mile-long bridge to seal off lanes so workers can repair sections of the bridge. Drivers have been traveling in narrower lanes — about a foot narrower than the standard 12-foot lanes — with narrower shoulders.

The new configuration will allow DOT to work on the right side of the bridge and finish repairing the middle section. Around Memorial Day, DOT plans another lane reconfiguration that will shift barriers to the right so four lanes will be open on the left side of the bridge, rather than three lanes, Schoppe said.

The four lanes will remain open through the summer and until the project is scheduled to be completed at the end of next November, he said.

He said the construction project, which began in April, is about halfway done and remains on schedule.

DOT engineers have said that the $26 million worth of repairs will preserve the bridge for 25 years. The project calls for patching up deteriorating concrete on the deck, replacing deck joints, installing a higher-tech waterproofing system and repaving the deck, touching up and replacing steel, as needed, and replacing signs and lights.

DOT also is planning a major construction project for the northbound span in the future.

k.drelich@theday.com

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