Groton, Stonington look to approve funding for Old Mystic bridge repair

Mystic — Groton and Stonington may be coming to an agreement on funding to repair the closed bridge on North Stonington Road, just west of the Old Mystic fire station No. 1, more than six years after it was badly damaged in a flood.

But even if each town approves its approximately $300,000 share of funding for the $1.2 million project, it could be some time before the permits are obtained and the work completed.

The work is getting a boost now since the state has told the Town of Groton, which has been taking the lead on the project, that the work qualifies for $597,000 in state funding.

The towns have agreed to share the remainder of the cost.

Both communities did not include their 50 percent share of the funding in their current budgets.

Although the Groton Town Council had included the project in its proposed budget, the Representative Town Meeting rejected the funding because members had concerns that Stonington had not included the funding in its budget.

But after the Stonington Board of Selectmen briefly discussed the project Wednesday, First Selectman Rob Simmons pledged to seek a supplemental appropriation for the town’s share of the work from the Board of Finance.

Simmons has called the repair of the more-than-80-year-old span a safety issue.

With the bridge closed to vehicle and pedestrian traffic, it cuts off one of the access roads to Old Mystic Fire Department Station No. 1.

Fire Chief Ken Richards has said that his trucks must use a detour that poses a safety hazard to his firefighters and other motorists.

Groton Town Manager Mark Oefinger said Thursday he is setting up a meeting between the Groton Town Council, which supported the funding in the proposed 2016-17 budget, and Simmons to discuss the project.

If the council again supports the funding, it would move on to the RTM for approval.

Oefinger said the two towns have 45 days to accept the state funding.

However, he questioned whether the towns should spend $600,000 or more on fixing the bridge or look at other ways to improve traffic flow through the area.

When the original contractor for the project began work on the repairs in 2011, it discovered the design was flawed and that a new deck likely would be needed because the concrete had deteriorated.

That work has not been part of the design.

Work ceased and the towns have since recouped much of the $100,000 spent on hiring the engineering firm that designed the job, according to Oefinger.

He added that more current inspections have shown the bridge abutments will need to be repaired or possibly replaced, adding to the cost and time to complete the work.

j.wojtas@theday.com 

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