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Possible traffic delays: Niantic River Drawbridge repairs to take place during daytime hours

As repairs continue on the Niantic River Drawbridge, the Department of Transportation announced Wednesday that the work would be done during daytime hours and drivers should expect delays in the area.

DOT originally had planned to conduct the repairs at night after Memorial Day. Brent Church, the DOT project engineer overseeing the work, said by phone Wednesday that the department changed its plans because there is less traffic than is typical this time of year and to boost productivity.

“We are trying to capture a lot of time here that we lost because we got started really late" this spring due to scheduling issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Church said. He added that as crews finished repairs to a pedestrian stairwell on the Waterford side of the bridge last week, he and inspectors monitored traffic counts to see if work could be switched to daytime hours, allowing crews to work at a faster rate in an effort to finish major bridge repairs by the end of fall, as originally planned.

“I’m trying to get as much work as I can in the days, because working in the day is much more productive than nights,” he said.

Daytime work on the bridge will be conducted between 6 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. But should traffic pick up considerably, Church said work will be switched back to nights, or crews may work a four-day week, Monday through Thursday.

Signs have been posted alerting drivers to expect delays, and police officers from both Waterford and East Lyme are working to coordinate traffic stops and backups.

The $13.9 million project consists of replacing the 27-year-old span’s structural steel, deck joints and electrical and mechanical systems, along with repainting and repairs to the bridge deck and control house. The state has hired Middlesex Corp. of Littleton, Mass., to do the work.

The first and current phase of the project consists of removing and replacing existing joints on the bridge’s deck, as well as reconstructing the deck ends. Construction will move from the Waterford side to the East Lyme side and will alternate repairing the two lanes as work progresses westward. Bridge repaving will begin around late July, while repainting will take place below the bridge throughout the summer.

An email account specific to the project, DOT.info.nianticriverbridge@ct.gov, has been set up to allow residents to submit comments or ask questions.

m.biekert@theday.com

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